SC transmission maker announces $500M expansion to serve EV market

By: - November 15, 2023 5:25 pm

ZF Group will invest $500 million in its Gray Court facility, making parts for electric vehicles. (Provided by Laurens County Economic Development)

GRAY COURT — Laurens County’s largest employer is a German vehicle transmission maker, but electric vehicles don’t need traditional transmissions.

That’s why ZF Group’s latest $500 million buildout of its Laurens County facility is so important. The company will add new manufacturing lines, making parts for electric vehicles.

As automakers in South Carolina and across the country shift production to electric-powered cars, demand for products currently made in the small Upstate town of Gray Court is likely to gradually fall off.

“This investment will keep them competitive for the next 30 or 40 years,” Laurens County Economic Development Director Jonathan Coleman said. “This was really just a move towards the future.”

Gas-powered vehicle transmissions are more complex than their all-electric counterparts. An electric vehicle regulates the amount of power used to turn the wheels without the need for multiple gears.

State and county officials this week announced the deal, which marks the single largest in Laurens County history. It will nearly double the $600 million in investments the company has made at the Gray Court over the past decade.

ZF will add 400 more employees to its 2,000-person workforce, three times the population of Gray Court and 13% of the county’s total employment base.

The state is chipping in $15 million to cover a portion of expansion costs. The company also will receive income tax credits for each new employee, which in Laurens County is worth $20,250 per worker annually.

The Gray Court plant largely supplies Stellantis NV, which owns brands like Chrysler Dodge and Jeep; Jaguar Landrover; Honda Motor Company. The company’s other manufacturing plants also have contracts with BMW and Volkswagen, which could set the South Carolina location to supply Scout Motors Blythewood assembly plant and BMW’s upcoming electric vehicle line 30 miles to the north in Greer.

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Jessica Holdman
Jessica Holdman

Jessica Holdman writes about the economy, workforce and higher education. Before joining the SC Daily Gazette, she was a business reporter for The Post and Courier.