Work Kicks Off on New $100M Kentucky Auto Factory

Construction of a new car manufacturing facility has kicked off on a 200-acre site in Franklin, Ky. The plant is being developed by Integrity Automotive, a joint venture between Shepherdsville, Ky.-based Integrity Manufacturing and Santa Rosa, Calif.-based electric vehicle developer ZAP. Integrity Manufacturing and ZAP have joined forces to boost the manufacturing of electric vehicles in the U.S. The new 1 million-square-foot factory, to be situated about 150 miles south of Louisville and 45 miles north of Nashville, Tenn., could have been destined for China, where ZAP conducts most of its manufacturing activities. The new ZAP plant will make its home within the Wilkey North Industrial Park a few miles from I-65 in Simpson County, and will initially create 1,000 new jobs. The joint venture was able to succeed in keeping the jobs in the U.S. with the assistance of the state, which is providing $68 million in incentives that will help bridge the rather large gap between the salaries to be offered in Kentucky and the substantially lower salaries customarily paid in China. Additionally, the City of Franklin will make $76 million in industrial revenue bonds available for the development of the factory. For Integrity Manufacturing, the Integrity Automotive joint venture allows the company to expand its presence in Kentucky, where it presently has an aggregate 250,000 square feet at three locations, including its 120,000-square-foot corporate headquarters on an 11-acre parcel off Highway 44. Production of the low-speed vehicles at the new ZAP locale is on schedule to commence within the next 12 months. Integrity Manufacturing was not alone in its decision to boost its commitment to Simpson County this year. In February, semi-trailer manufacturer Wabash National Corp. announced plans to purchase 60 acres in the Sanders Interstate Industrial Park, where it will build a 300,000-square-foot structure at an estimated cost of $26 million.Established in 2007, Integrity Manufacturing is a precision machining operation in Kentucky. Fourteen-year-old ZAP, an acronym for zero air pollution, manufactures fuel-efficient advanced technology vehicles, including electric cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and ATVs. Company stock opened today at $0.52 today.