In June 2023, SK Signet, a Korean EV charger company, was joined by Plano city officials for a ribbon cutting ceremony unveiling the company's first US-based manufacturing and R&D facility. Originally announced in November 2022, the asset was acquired from defense giant Raytheon and repurposed. As a result, Plano is now home to the cutting edge of EV charger design and manufacturing.
SK Signet America will manufacture their new "V2" charger in the facility. This charger offers a higher power output that leads to an almost 17% decrease in charging times (0-80% in 15 minutes vs 18 minutes on a legacy charger). This output will also allow two cars to be rapidly charged simultaneously by the same charger. An expected 183 jobs will be located in the asset, which is capable of producing over 10,000 chargers per year.
Jung Ho Shin, CEO of SK Signet, spoke to the friendly business environment that led to the choice of the DFW area:
"SK Signet is thrilled to be opening this facility in Texas. The opening of the SK Signet factory means new jobs for Texas and more chargers for American EV owners. We couldn't have accomplished this without the close partnership of the State of Texas and the City of Plano."
The Infrastructure and Jobs Act and National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program certainly had strong influence upon the decision to produce chargers in the United States, but The Metroplex's pro-business environment, strong base of skilled workers, and central geographic location make it a perennial contender for new investment (the endearing novelty of cowboy hats, such as in the photo above, doesn't hurt either).
Governor Greg Abbott spoke to the growing importance of EVs and domestic manufacturing of critical EV infrastructure:
We are proud that SK Signet has chosen Plano, Texas, for this significant investment. The company's new state-of-the-art facility will not only create new manufacturing jobs for hardworking Texans, but will advance critical EV infrastructure for our state and the nation. Thanks to innovative leaders like SK Signet, Texas is leading the way on future technology which will power the Texas of tomorrow.
Plano Mayor John Muns spoke to the impact of high tech manufacturing on the city:
We are very excited for the grand opening of SK Signet in the City of Plano. Their investment in our community represents a significant milestone that holds immense promise for our community and beyond. The company's innovative technology and EV charging capabilities are remarkable, and we are thrilled to be home to their first manufacturing facility in the United States.
Regardless of personal opinions toward EVs, investors should keep a close eye on the industry's expansion. While EV startups are highly risky, there is no doubt that the infrastructure will have to be developed. Whether investing in equity or choosing a tenant, companies such as SK Signet may have a lower risk profile due to their business of "selling shovels to the prospectors" -- they benefit from EV usage without having to bet specifically on Tesla, GM, Rivian, or any other specific manufacturer. Perhaps more importantly, successful EV investors can brag to their golf buddies that EVs helped them buy their new Ford Raptor.
More specifically to CRE, moves such as these are a strong positive indicator for DFW's industrial market, which already has scarce vacancy. While this particular asset was not a new development, investors will likely feel confident in their holdings after seeing any arms-length transaction. For non-industrial investors, these quality jobs support communities around them, granting opportunities to investors across all asset classes.
Plus, everyone can appreciate high tech manufacturing come stateside, especially for infrastructure that will prove crucial in the future.