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Bosch electric motors assembled in Charleston earmarked for Rivian R1T BEVs.

Diesel Out, BEV Motors in at Bosch in South Carolina

Bosch says 200,000 sq.-ft. at the Charleston plant previously dedicated to diesel is now coming online to make electric motors, initially for pickup truck maker Rivian.

In a $260 million makeover, Tier 1 supplier Bosch is repurposing a significant portion of its workforce and its facilities in Charleston, SC, away from manufacturing parts for diesel technology and into making motors for electric vehicles, initially for pickup truck maker Rivian.

“For many years, this facility made diesel components,” especially fuel injectors, says Mike Mansuetti, president of Bosch in North America. “In January 2020, we reached the difficult decision that due to market demand, the diesel business would exit Charleston.”

At the same time, Mansuetti (pictured, below left) says U.S. management was “very optimistic” that among Bosch’s worldwide operations, the Charleston complex would land the electrification business.

Mike Mansuetti.jpgAnnekathrin Mueller, vice president and commercial plant manager for Bosch in Charleston, says 200,000 sq.-ft. (18,580 sq.-m) at the plant previously dedicated to diesel is now starting to come online to make electric motors. Later, Bosch intends to build an additional 75,000 sq.-ft. (6,970 sq.-m) to expand electric motor production.

At 275,000 sq.-ft. (25,550 sq.-m), products aimed at electrification would represent about 28% of total square footage at the Charleston facility which is divided among four main buildings.

In addition to retraining and transferring employees from other Bosch product lines, including the former diesel operation, Mueller says the supplier expects to add more than 350 net new jobs by 2025. Total head count in Charleston is now around 1,500.

Based on the dedicated square footage, and taking other variables into account, such as line speed, the number of shifts in operation and the nature of potential future products, possibly for customers other than Rivian, annual capacity could ramp up from about 150,000 electric motors on one assembly line to as many as 600,000-plus from four lines.

Bosch already is supplying Rivian with electric motors imported from Europe. U.S. production of electric motors began earlier in October, but the official dedication was Oct. 25, says Markus Groeger, senior vice president and technical plant manager for Bosch in Charleston. “First, we produce. Then, we celebrate,” he says.

Bosch executives won’t say which automakers besides Rivian could be potential customers for electric motors or other electrification products.

Bosch’s plans are part of a rising tide of North American production capacity aimed at EVs, including battery production as well as electric motors and other components.

The Charleston facility continues building other products aimed at vehicles with internal-combustion engines, including pumps and fuel injectors for gasoline direct injection.

The plant also makes parts and systems for electronic stability control, automatic emergency braking and other technologies used in advanced driver assistance systems.

Bosch’s presence in Charleston dates back to 1974. Parent company Robert Bosch GmbH is based in Gerlingen, Germany.

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