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$16M expansion to battery component plant will create more jobs in Oconee County

Ross Norton //June 12, 2024//

The West Union plant manufactures 52 million battery covers every year for Clarios. (Photo/Ross Norton)

The West Union plant manufactures 52 million battery covers every year for Clarios. (Photo/Ross Norton)

The West Union plant manufactures 52 million battery covers every year for Clarios. (Photo/Ross Norton)

The West Union plant manufactures 52 million battery covers every year for Clarios. (Photo/Ross Norton)

$16M expansion to battery component plant will create more jobs in Oconee County

Ross Norton //June 12, 2024//

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Pop a hood on a vehicle anywhere in the world and there’s a 33% chance the battery you see was made by Clarios. And if it’s a Clarios battery, chances are good that part of it was manufactured in Oconee County.

The company broke ground June 11 on a $16 million expansion project that will enable the West Union plant to make even more — another 30 million parts for the automotive battery industry. Those parts are shipped from South Carolina to other U.S. plants and well as factories in Mexico, South America, Europe and Asia where the complete batteries are assembled.

Clarios employees explain for a tour group how their equipment manufactures fire restrictors for batteries. (Photo/Ross Norton)
Clarios employees explain for a tour group how their equipment manufactures fire restrictors for batteries. (Photo/Ross Norton)

The company makes 155 million batteries a year that go to customers in 150 countries.

The West Union expansion will bring in new equipment and a dozen new employees.

During a brief slide presentation after the groundbreaking ceremony, Plant Manager Jorge Martins circled a spot on an aerial photo of the West Union facility with a laser pointer, showing where the new construction will take place. Then, with a sly look at the company president visiting from Wisconsin, Martins drew laughter from the small audience as he pointed out other places on the property that could hold more expansion projects.

Martins has a great deal of confidence in his workforce because they’ve been proving themselves for 39 years. They produce 52 million battery covers a year, 16 million flame arrestors, 975 million powerframe grids and 112 million other small parts, including the caps that cover the battery acid ports.

 

Jorge Martins, plant manager at the Clarios manufacturing site in West Union, welcomes employees and guests, including South Carolina Secretary of State Mrk Hammonds, to a ceremony and barbecue celebrating the groundbreaking. (Photo/Ross Norton)
Jorge Martins, plant manager at the Clarios manufacturing site in West Union, welcomes employees and guests, including South Carolina Secretary of State Mrk Hammonds, to a ceremony and barbecue celebrating the groundbreaking. (Photo/Ross Norton)

Clarios said in a news release that expanding electrical demands in vehicles — even those powered by internal combustion engines — is also increasing demands on the batteries. The upcoming construction project will create a space for producing parts for the AGM — or absorbent glass mat — battery, designed to deliver a lot of amps even when the engine is off. AGM 12-volt batteries power wide array of vehicle systems, such as safety and entertainment features, for every type of vehicle, including hybrids and EVs, the news release said.

Related: EV manufacturer enters South Carolina market with $12M facility

The AGM was first brought to the automotive market by Clarios in 2001  to support an array of vehicle entertainment and safety features that require constant, on-demand power availability.

Battery caps roll off the manufacturing line at the Clarios West Union plant and fall into boxes for shipping. (Photo/Ross Norton)
Battery caps roll off the manufacturing line at the Clarios West Union plant and fall into boxes for shipping. (Photo/Ross Norton)

“Clarios is proud to be a part of South Carolina’s automotive sector, a globally recognized manufacturing hub for high-performance vehicles and their advanced components,” Gerardo Gonzalez Aleu, Clarios president for the U.S. and Canada. “South Carolina provides a strong base of highly trained, skilled and knowledgeable workers.”

West Union’s 9,000-square-foot expansion, which will include infrastructure improvements and new, high-tech molding and assembly equipment, is expected to be operational by January 2025.

Clarios has 16 facilities across the country, including a distribution center in Florence County. The Oconee County Clarios plant is at 1204 Old Walhalla Highway in West Union.

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