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The new epicenter of the automotive boom

Daniel Davenport
Jul 24, 2023

South Carolina is becoming the heart of the industry and a base for innovation

The automotive industry is moving south. Investment is flowing heavily into states like Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina at volumes greater than into the Great Lakes region: $22.4 billion and $9.9 billion respectively in 2021.

Automakers are scaling their operations to meet the growing demand for electric vehicles (EVs). The pro-business climate and tax incentives in the southern states has made them the perfect location to stage this expansion. But the main factor driving this trend is manufacturing shifting back to America. The batteries needed for those EVs, for example, are increasingly being produced onshore to reduce dependency on overseas supply chains.

The south brings more than just industrial opportunity; some of the greatest minds in the sector have made it their base for innovation. Industry expert John Ward at the University of South Carolina is one example. He is working to make technology more relevant to manufacturers by making visual inspection easier and quicker to set up on the factory floor.

Ward and the USC team created a solution that leverages the IBM Maximo iPhone application as an input device for defect detection. This allows operators to use smartphones to build models for computer-vision systems to immediately detect errors and defects on the production line, allowing them to be fixed quickly.

Defects create safety hazards, damage brand reputation, and may result in recalls. Companies therefore need tools to protect their image and ensure their success.

A prototype of this solution is already live at one major OEM and its manufacturing plants. And this is just one example of why the University of South Carolina has become a key player in this sector. Capgemini joined forces with USC across a number of disciplines, from computer science and analytics to engineering. Together, we are at the heart of this boom by creating prototypes and proofs-of-concept that we can effectively industrialize and scale for the benefit of our automotive partners.

Industry titans have recognized the incredible potential of the region and its talent and are setting up shop to get involved. BMW announced it will make batteries for its EVs at a $1.7-billion facility in South Carolina. Volvo and Michelin have invested in their own manufacturing plants.

But it’s not just the industry leaders: Scout Motors, a subsidiary of Volkswagen, is establishing its first factory in the city of Columbia, South Carolina. It is expected to produce more than 200,000 Scout vehicles annually when it reaches maximum capacity and has the potential to employ more than 4,000 workers on permanent contracts, a testament to the impact this is having on local communities. All this is more than just about engineering the cars of the future – it is also about creating new opportunities for people.

The south is the place to be in this exciting moment in the world of automotive. Keep an eye on South Carolina; great things will come from here.


Daniel Davenport

Principal, Connected Mobility, Automotive
Daniel Davenport is a Connected Mobility Solutions Lead at Capgemini. He works with a range of global clients to develop connected use cases that drive innovation, enhance the owner experience, and create new revenue streams.