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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

India company to build EV battery materials plant near Wilmington

An India-based company plans to build an electronic vehicle battery materials plant just south of Wilmington, adding to the state’s burgeoning EV industry.

Epsilon Advanced Materials plans to open the plant, which will employ as many as 500 workers, in 2026. The average salary for the new positions will be $52,264. The current average wage in Brunswick County is $46,464, according to the state.

The facility will be located at the Mid-Atlantic Rail Industrial Park, which has access to a CSX rail line and is a few miles from the Port of Wilmington. Epsilon said it is in talks with U.S.-based contractors to build the plant.

“North Carolina continues to lead the way in the transition to a clean energy economy by attracting good-paying jobs from great companies like Epsilon,” said Gov. Roy Cooper in a statement.

Earlier this year, Vietnam-based VinFast broke ground on a manufacturing plant in Chatham County to build electronic vehicles and batteries, spending $4 billion with plans to add more than 7,000 jobs. Charlotte-based Albemarle Corp. plans to reopen a lithium mine in Kings Mountain as the Biden Administration seeks to have more lithium produced in the U.S. for electric vehicle batteries.

Last year, Toyota announced plans for an EV battery plant in Liberty that would add 350 jobs and begin production in 2025.

According to the India-based business publication Mint, the plant is “projected to reach full capacity by 2031, generating an estimated revenue of $500 million.” Epsilon will invest $649.9 million into the project, according to the state.

Mint stated that Epsilon, which is based in Mumbai, has “already secured strategic supply agreements with local raw material suppliers and transport partners.”

Epsilon CEO Sunit Kapur said the plant resolves supply chain concerns from the auto industry. The plant will use “green technology” to produce high-capacity anode materials for EV batteries.

In an interview, Kapur said that the company looked at nearly 100 potential sites before narrowing the choice to seven locations. Eventually, the decision was between a site in Tennessee and the Brunswick County location.

“The major reason is the state’s business-friendly environment and the site, being closest to the coast,” said Kapur. “And the energy power availability. There was great support from the county and from Duke Energy to provide us with the power when we need it.”

Company managing director Vikram Handa noted that President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act adds and expands tax credits for purchases of new and used electronic vehicles. There are now more than 3 million EVs on the road and more than 135,000 public EV chargers across the country. Biden wants half of all cars on the road in 2030 to be EVs.

Handa says the company has been holding talks with Brunswick County Community College about training future employees. “We have been visiting North Carolina, we just haven’t been able to talk about it until now,” he says.

The plant is expected to produce 50,000 tons of graphic anode a year when it’s fully operational. The company has operations in India and has announced a project in Finland that is in the permitting stage. It expects to begin construction on the Brunswick County plant in mid-2024.

Over the course of 12 years, the project is estimated to grow the state’s economy by $1.3 billion. Using a formula that takes into account the new tax revenues generated by the new jobs, the state’s Economic Investment Committee on Thursday approved a potential reimbursement to the company of up to $3.4 million spread over 12 years.

TechCrunch is tracking EV battery plant construction in North America here.

 

 

 

Chris Roush
Chris Roush
Chris Roush is executive editor of Business North Carolina. He can be reached at croush@businessnc.com.

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