LORDSTOWN, Ohio — The Rust Belt's transformation is electric.
Major South Korean battery maker LG and Japanese automaker Honda announced Monday they are investing $4.4 billion in a joint venture in the United States to produce batteries for Honda electric vehicles in the North American market.
In a statement issued Monday, Governor Mike DeWine said the state has been working to bring the plant to Ohio. "Ohio's advanced manufacturing future is bright. With automakers moving to manufacture more and more electric vehicles, we want Honda to expand its operation in Ohio. For almost 40 years, Ohio has been at the center of Honda's North American vehicle production, and we are working with Honda and LG to ensure that they choose Ohio for this new electric battery plant."
The joint venture is to be set up this year, with the closing of the deal subject to regulatory approval. The plant’s site is still undecided, but construction will begin in early 2023, with mass production of advanced lithium-ion battery cells to start by the end of 2025, according to Honda and LG.
The potential of having the plant in the Buckeye State is supercharging excitement over Ohio's future in electric vehicles.
Team NEO, the economic development non-profit, believes momentum is building. Consider that just eight years ago, there was talk of mass layoffs at Ford's Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake. Earlier this summer, Ford announced it will be investing $1.5 billion into the plant to produce an all-new EV commercial vehicle, while adding 1,800 new jobs.
In Lordstown, three years after the closing of the GM plant, Lordstown Motors and its parent company Foxconn are hoping to have the long-awaited Endurance electric pickup truck ready for commercial deliveries later this year. In the meantime, Foxconn has announced plans to build Monarch electric tractors at the Lordstown plant as well.
Right down the road, the new $2.3 billion Ultium battery plant is about to start production of batteries for GMC's HUMMER EV.
Mindy McLaughlin, an auto industry expert for the economic development non-profit, Team NEO, believes Ohio is attractive to the EV industry.
“They’re finding that we have this long history of manufacturing a long history of R & D [research and development], and we have what’s super-important to EV – is land,” said McLaughlin. “And so companies are looking for big swaths of land, big parcels of land, because usually the facility that they build is in a large footprint.”
Industry analysts say while Honda has not yet disclosed where the electric-vehicle battery plant will be located, other companies have built battery plants near their existing auto manufacturing plants.
Honda has manufacturing facility in Marysville, outside of Columbus.
The push for domestic production of EV batteries got a boost earlier this month with the Inflation Reduction Act, which offers thousands of dollars in incentives for customers to buy EVs, but the tax credits carry rules requiring a percentage of critical minerals used in batteries come from the United States or an American free-trade partner.