CHARLOTTE — Specialty vehicle manufacturer The Shyft Group Inc. plans to invest $16 million to expand its engineering and manufacturing capabilities in Charlotte to produce the company’s Blue Arc EV Solutions brand of electric commercial vehicles.
The investment will enable Novi-based Shyft (Nasdaq: SHYF) to start production on the all-electric Class 3, 4 and 5 vehicles by mid 2023 at its legacy manufacturing facilities in Charlotte, about 20 miles southwest of Lansing. The specialty vehicle manufacturer will have the capacity to manufacture 3,000 EVs per year in Charlotte, where it currently produces several Shyft product lines, such as conventionally powered delivery vans and chassis used in motorhomes and work trucks.
Company executives expect the expansion to pave the way for new engineering, manufacturing and technical jobs at the site. In an application for an industrial facilities tax exemption from the city of Charlotte, the company projected it would hire 200 new employees as part of the expansion project, which includes renovations to Plant 4 and Plant 7, according to a presentation in December.
A Shyft spokesperson told MiBiz the company currently employs about 900 people in Charlotte, up from about 300 a couple of years ago. The company employs a total of 1,225 people statewide.
“We’re extremely proud to invest in EV production here in our home state of Michigan where our company has been headquartered for nearly 50 years,” Shyft Group President and CEO Daryl Adams said in a statement. “We are thankful to be part of the Charlotte community and look forward to bringing the future of fleets to our operations there.”
Shyft Group was formerly known as Spartan Motors Inc. and headquartered in Charlotte until 2020, when it sold off its emergency response vehicle line, changed its name and relocated administrative operations to Novi in a move to attract talent from southeast Michigan, as MiBiz previously reported.
The investment comes nearly five months after Shyft received the first 2,000-unit preorder for Blue Arc’s line of walk-in delivery vans, which will be available in body lengths from 12 feet to 22 feet and feature 150 miles of range. The company is marketing Blue Arc to last-mile delivery fleets.
With the expansion, the company is leveraging assistance and incentives from the city of Charlotte, Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), and the Michigan Economic Development Corp., which is providing an $800,000 performance-based grant under the Jobs Ready Michigan Program.
MEDC CEO Quentin Messer, Jr. said Shyft Group’s expansion “underscores the strength of your business powered by our state’s talented workforce and leadership in mobility and advanced manufacturing.”
“We’re grateful to Shyft for this vote of confidence in Michigan and look forward to working together to grow, add jobs, and provide greater opportunity in Mid-Michigan,” Messer said in a statement.
The company weighed locating the EV production facility in Indiana and Pennsylvania, according to the MEDC.
“Our future is bright, and thanks to companies like Shyft and our local partners, we can continue bringing critical supply chains of cars, chips, and clean energy home to grow our economy and create good jobs for Michigan residents,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement.
The state’s announcement noted the overall project is forecasted to create 680 jobs in Charlotte. A company spokesperson said some of the hiring had already taken place and that Shyft Group will focus on employee retention and raising wages to reach certain milestones required under the grant. Shyft Group also will continue to work with Capital Area Michigan Works! on various talent efforts.
As well, an executive previously told Charlotte officials the company planned to pursue additional local tax incentives for a third location set to be a “battery storage facility” at the campus. However, the company opted in the last four or five weeks not to pursue the incentive, according to a spokesperson.
The company will report its fourth quarter and year-end 2022 earnings on Thursday, Feb. 23.
As part of a third quarter earnings report released Oct. 27, Shyft Group executives narrowed their full-year outlook to $1 billion to $1.1 billion in revenues. At the time, they said expenses related to EV development were expected to reach about $30 million for the year.
Through the first nine months of 2022, Shyft Group generated $725.1 million in sales, up about 1.5 percent year-over-year.
In 2021, Shyft reported annual revenues of $992 million and adjusted earnings of $108 million.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated from its original form.