South Carolina

Diesel Out, BEV Motors in at Bosch in South Carolina

In a $260 million restructuring, Tier 1 supplier Bosch is converting a significant portion of its workforce and facilities in Charleston, SC, away from making parts for diesel technology and toward making engines for electric vehicles, initially for the pickup manufacturer Rivian.

“This facility has been producing diesel components for many years,” particularly fuel injectors, says Mike Mansuetti, president of Bosch North America. “In January 2020 we made the difficult decision that the diesel business would exit Charleston due to market demand.”

At the same time Mansuetti (in the picture below left) says US management is “very optimistic” that the Charleston complex would attract the electrification business among Bosch’s global operations.

Mike Mansuetti.jpgAnnekathrin Mueller, vice president and commercial plant manager at Bosch in Charleston, says 200,000 square feet. (18,580 m²) in the plant, which was previously dedicated to diesel fuel, is now operational for the production of electric motors. Later, Bosch plans to build another 75,000 square feet. (6,970 sqm) to expand electric motor production.

At 275,000 square feet. (25,550 m²), electrification products would account for approximately 28% of the total area of ​​the Charleston facility, which is spread across four main buildings.

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

Based on the dedicated square footage and considering other variables such as line speed, number of operating shifts and the nature of potential future products, potentially for customers other than Rivian, the annual capacity could be increased from about 150,000 electric motors on one assembly line to over 600,000 from four lines .

Bosch already supplies Rivian with electric motors imported from Europe. U.S. production of electric motors began in early October, but the official dedication was on Oct. 25, says Markus Groeger, Bosch’s senior vice president and engineering plant manager in Charleston. “First we produce. Then we celebrate,” he says.

The Bosch executives do not want to say which car manufacturers other than Rivian could be potential customers for electric motors or other electrification products.

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

The Charleston plant continues to build other products for internal combustion engine vehicles, including gasoline direct injection pumps and injectors.

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. The parent company Robert Bosch GmbH is based in Gerlingen, Germany.

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