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Signing a memorandum of understanding with GEDIA Automotive Group, a new advanced manufacturing facility coming to Whitfield County by the third quarter of 2021, are (from left) Carl Campbell, executive director, Dalton-Whitfield Joint Development Authority; Lynn Laughter, chairman, Whitfield County Board of Commissioners; and Kevin Harris, chairman of the JDA.

This story was updated at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 24, with more information.

Targeting the growing electric vehicle market, a German auto supplier plans to build an $85 million parts plant near Dalton, Georgia, to serve Mercedes-Benz and potentially Volkswagen.

GEDIA Automotive Group is to start work within a couple of months on a 180,000-square-foot factory where it will create 200 jobs, officials said Friday.

"As we are a national leader in manufacturing, logistics and workforce training, I'm confident this family-owned business will be very pleased with their decision to join the growing electric vehicle ecosystem here in Georgia," Gov. Brian Kemp said.

Earlier this year, South Korean battery maker SK Innovation said it planned to plow another $940 million into a $1.67 billion Northeast Georgia facility under construction that's to supply VW's Chattanooga electric vehicle assembly site.

Carl Campbell, the Dalton-Whitfield Joint Development Authority's executive director, said the GEDIA factory is aimed at making body components for a new electric vehicle for Mercedes-Benz, which has a production plant in Vance, Alabama.

But, he said, the company is interested in capturing business from VW Chattanooga, where an $800 million expansion is underway to build a battery-powered SUV by 2022.

"I believe they're very interested in that," he said. "I believe they have the capacity and interest in the VW plant."

ABOUT THE COMPANY

GEDIA has made products for the auto industry since 1955. It has more than 4,300 employees in eight production plants. Go to gedia.com/en/careers/overview for more information.

Campbell said the site of the GEDIA factory at Carbondale Business Park in Whitfield County is centrally located to the Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama as well as VW in Chattanooga and BMW and Volvo facilities in South Carolina.

"Our location puts them at great advantage to serve all the European manufacturers around us," he said.

Operations are to begin at the GEDIA plant in the third quarter of 2021, according to the state. GEDIA will use state-of-the-art press hardening, tempering, and automated welding processes to produce parts.

GEDIA already supplies lightweight structural auto parts to VW, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and other companies, the state said, and the new plant will mark the company's first site in the Southeast and second in the United States.

"Moving closer to the original equipment manufacturers allows us to serve the American market even better," said Markus Schaumburg, one of two GEDIA CEOs.

Co-CEO Helmut Hinkel said the company will use patented technology to create body components with lower weight and significantly higher crash safety performance while conserving energy and material.

"The heart of the plant will be a hot-forming line with its patented TemperBox, which will allow the company to broaden product range and expand its value chain," he said.

Campbell said the plant's average wage will be more than $15 per hour.

He said Whitfield County is providing real and personal property tax incentives for the project and helping grade the site. The state is offering training and a grant, Campbell said.

Even though the VW plant is less than an hour away and was built more than a decade ago, Whitfield County hasn't landed many auto suppliers, he said.

"We have hopes this paves the way for more in the future," Campbell said, adding that a diverse economy is key.

SK Innovation has said it plans to develop two battery manufacturing facilities in Commerce, Georgia, and create 2,600 jobs.

But The Korea Times has reported that the U.S. International Trade Commission sided with another South Korean company, LG Chem, in a claim that SK Innovation attempted to destroy a wide range of evidence indicating that it stole confidential battery-making trade secrets.

Volkswagen said this week that permitting SK Innovation to supply batteries to the company would prevent VW from suffering "a catastrophic supply disruption" resulting in delayed introduction of the company's electric vehicles in the U.S.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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