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Kentucky plant adding dozens of new jobs

Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas Inc. announced Monday the company has selected its Mercer County plant as the site of its North American lithium-ion battery packs production. That means the plant will add new jobs.

This is Hitachi’s fourth announcement of new jobs and since 2009, when Governor Beshear traveled to Japan to meet with Hitachi officials. Since that visit, Hitachi has announced a total of 335 new jobs and $154.5 million in investment in its two Kentucky locations.

Monday’s announcement will reportedly create 60 new jobs. The Governor's office says the company is making a $2 million investment in the Commonwealth.

“Hitachi’s continued investment is proof that Kentucky’s personal touch in economic development is paying off big dividends by attracting local, national and international business to our state. I’m proud to add yet another successful chapter in the Kentucky-Hitachi story,” Gov. Beshear said. “Not only will Hitachi’s latest expansion add 60 new employees in Harrodsburg, it also builds upon our efforts to become the epicenter of the advanced automotive manufacturing industry. We appreciate Hitachi’s sustained confidence in the Commonwealth and know that through strategic partnerships such as this we can continue to make great things happen.”

Hitachi has existing locations in Harrodsburg and Berea. The plant produces automotive electronics. With this latest expansion, the plant will also produce the battery control electronics, which will be installed as part of the battery pack assembly.

“Hitachi is one of the few automotive suppliers with the capability to develop and produce our own lithium-ion batteries, electric drive motors and the electronic controls needed to manage electric powered automobiles,” said Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas President Mark Fujisawa. “The North American production of these hybrid electric vehicle batteries complements our North American production of hybrid vehicle motors, which we announced last month. We are excited to further expand our United States production operations with the manufacturing of these batteries produced in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Hitachi Automotive Systems Ltd. President and CEO Kunihiko Ohnuma said, “We will strengthen the development of technology around the globe for electronic and electric products to meet the needs of electric powered automobiles. The addition of advanced technology battery pack production in Kentucky is part of this strategy and it will help advance our desire to bring our manufacturing closer to where the products are consumed.”

Hitachi also announced this past August the establishment of its third Kentucky manufacturing facility in Berea, which will produce motors for electric automobiles. The Berea plant will create 130 new jobs.

Lithium-ion battery packs production at the Harrodsburg plant is expected to begin in 2012, with the first product shipment going out in 2013. Hitachi’s future plans also include the production of electric inverters for hybrid electric vehicles, which will be manufactured in its Kentucky plants.

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