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John Deere plans EV battery and charger plant near Winston-Salem

David Boraks

A division of agricultural and industrial equipment maker John Deere plans to spend $69.6 million to build a battery and fast-charger factory near Winston-Salem.

The project in Kernersville will create 50 jobs and be the North American headquarters for John Deere Electric Powertrain LLC. The company is a joint venture between Deere and Kreisel Electric of Austria. The new plant will be near an existing Deere excavator plantin Kernersville.

The 115,000-square-foot factory will make batteries and chargers for heavy-duty, off-highway electric vehicles. New jobs will include assemblers, material handlers, packagers and quality inspectors. State officials provided a $100,000 grant to help local officials land the project. The company also could get additional incentives, including up to $1.32 million from Forsyth County.

"As the demand for electric solutions continues to increase, this strategic investment in growing our production capacity will help strengthen our position as an international battery technology leader," Pierre Guyot, senior vice president of John Deere Power Systems and chairman of Kreisel Electric, said in a statement.

"Within the evolving off-highway equipment market, we are prioritizing the development of a robust charging ecosystem and battery portfolio that can support and sustain the long-term adoption of electrification across a wide variety of applications," Guyot said.

It's the latest electric vehicle-related project to be announced in the Carolinas, which have become a target for development of new EV-related factories.

Gov. Roy Cooper welcomed the announcement, saying in a press release: "North Carolina’s leadership in manufacturing, innovation and clean transportation is creating great jobs from global manufacturers like this. With our shared values on sustainability, we look forward to creating a cleaner future together."

The governor's office said the company's payroll would be $3.3 million a year.

Deere said in a news release it plans to break ground this fall and begin production in 2025.

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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.