Ohio’s Electric Vehicle and Battery Industry: Accelerating Ohio’s Auto Industry

February 25, 2022

Part 1: Accelerating Ohio’s Auto Industry

On Feb. 16, 2022, State Senator Michael Rulli announced his “Accelerating Ohio’s Auto Industry” bill to assist automakers move into electrical vehicle manufacturing. This announced bill, if passed, will provide $15 million to help traditional automakers move into electric vehicle manufacturing and $10 million in education grants to create a high-tech workforce for the industry. The bill aims to help the auto industry and make sure the new jobs and business in this growing industry come to Ohio. This is the first of a multi-part series related to Ohio’s growing electric vehicle auto industry and related government programs to assist this industry.

Expanding Investment and Resources

The steady and expanding investments already made in Ohio’s Mahoning Valley has led to it gaining the moniker of “Voltage Valley.”  With hundreds of millions in industry capital invested to date, existing players already include electric vehicle company Lordstown Motors, and battery factory Ultium Cells, which is a joint partnership between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions. Further, last September, Taiwan-based Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (2317.TW), entered into an agreement in principle with Lordstown Motors’ to purchase Lordstown’s 6.2 million square-foot plant for $230 million and take over electric pick-up truck production. The move also propels Foxconn’s relationship with electric car startup Fisker, which is aimed at co-developing and manufacturing Fisker’s PEAR (Personal Electric Automotive Revolution) program in North America. Fisker CEO Henrik Fisker has stated that, should the Foxconn/Lordstown Motors acquisition fully close (currently anticipated in April of this year), then the company would intend to make the PEAR with Foxconn in Lordstown.  Senator Michael Rulli’s bill would provide additional resources to Voltage Valley and other parts of Ohio, including Columbus, where California-based hydrogen electric vehicle upstart Hyperion Motors recently announced its intention to invest $297 million in a new headquarters for the Company.

Federal Funding to Support the Electric Vehicle and Battery Industry

The federal government has also announced funding to support the electric vehicle and battery industry. Back in June 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy announced $200 million in funding over the next five years for electric vehicles, batteries, and connected vehicles projects at DOE national labs and new DOE partnerships to support electric vehicles innovation.  In January 2021, the DOE announced an initial $1 million partnership with Youngstown State University and DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to advance workforce development for the battery manufacturing industry, supporting YSU’s development of an Energy Storage Workforce Innovation Center, which will serve as a regional job training center. Warren-based BRITE Energy Innovators, a regional nonprofit organization formed in 2010 to foster the creation and development of new industrial opportunities in the advanced and alternative energy field, is actively partnering with YSU, Jobs Ohio, Team NEO, and the broader Ohio economic development community to help enable and attract supply chain companies that can accelerate the landslide of new industrial potential in the Voltage Valley.

This month, the Department of Energy issued two notices of its intent to provide $2.91 billion to boost production of the advanced batteries needed for electric vehicles and for energy storage. These funds are part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that President Biden signed in November 2021.

The Future of Ohio’s Electric Vehicle and Battery Industry

Ohio State Senator Michael Rulli’s bill is in the very early stages of the legislative process. The attorneys at KJK are actively monitoring this bill and related government actions while also assisting clients who may be able to receive funds and any other assistance from both Ohio and the Federal government in this fast-moving industry.

If you have questions about recent Ohio legislation for the electric vehicle and battery industry and how it can impact your business, please contact Ted Theofrastous (TCT@kjk.com; 216.736.7290) or Jeff Vaisa (JRV@kjk.com; 216.736.7287).