BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — DENSO is shifting gears in Battle Creek as it looks to retool production lines and add a new line for electric vehicle components.

DENSO opened its manufacturing plant in Battle Creek in 1984 and now employs around 2,100 people.

“Over the last four decades, DENSO has become the largest employers in Battle Creek,” Robert Corder, the vice president of attraction for Battle Creek Unlimited, said during a Michigan Strategic Fund board meeting Tuesday.

He said the facility, which manufactures air conditioner and engine cooling components for cars, is the largest facility in the industrial park. It also has two affiliated companies and several suppliers in the area.

“We joke and say that Battle Creek was historically the ‘Cereal City’ but today we really should call it ‘DENSO Town,'” Corder said.

Corder said one of the facility’s main products is radiators, which aren’t used in electric vehicles. As the industry evolves, the company is looking to retool its production lines for electric vehicle components. It is also looking to add a new production line that will manufacture EV parts for OEM. 

Corder said the project “is all about keeping jobs here in Battle Creek and future-proofing our community.”

Matt Briden, the vice president of business planning for DENSO’s North America Thermal Group, said the project will also help workers learn new skills and transition their expertise “with the changing needs of our industry.”

“I’m excited to bring this $63 million investment to the Battle Creek area as part of our necessary transition to electrification in the automotive space,” he said.

The MSF Board on Tuesday approved a 15-year State Essential Services Assessment exemption, which is expected to be worth up to $1.4 million.

The project is expected to kick off by the end of this year. It was announced in September, when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer visited DENSO’s Global Headquarters in Japan.