AUTOMOTIVE
From Ohio Business Growth Guide 2024
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Solid State

Ohio assembles the prototype for the EV ecosystem.

AUTOMOTIVE
Associates at the Honda Marysville Auto Plant (MAP) in Ohio on April 2, 2024, marked the production of the 15 millionth vehicle in the more than 40-year history of the plant, Honda’s first auto manufacturing facility in North America. MAP Plant Lead Mike Zindars said the plant “is ready to lead Honda’s transformation into BEV production.”
Photo courtesy of Honda

by Adam Bruns
A

s goes Tuscarawas County, so goes the world.

The micropolitan area of New Philadelphia-Dover, Ohio, consistently ranks in the top 25 small towns for economic development in Site Selection magazine’s annual ranking of these areas by number of company facility investment projects. 2024 was no different, as the region in Tuscarawas County tied for No. 17 in the nation with five projects qualifying for Site Selection’s Conway Projects Database from the previous calendar year.

Now it’s time to add a big project for the region’s 2024 tally.
Germany-based Schaeffler in February announced it plans to invest more than $230 million in a new manufacturing facility in Dover, with future expansions planned by 2032 that would bring 450 new jobs to Dover and around 200 to the company’s current facility in Wooster, where Schaeffler recently completed a 90,000-sq.-ft. expansion to produce electric motors and components for electric powertrain systems. The first phase of the new 130,000-sq.-ft. facility in Dover will be dedicated to electric mobility solutions for the automotive industry, including electric axles for light and medium-duty vehicles.

“Our new plant will play a pivotal role in shaping our future in the Americas region,” said Marc McGrath, CEO of Schaeffler Americas, with hiring to include pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs and positions including manufacturing operators (assembly, welding and CNC), material handlers, manufacturing leaders, engineers, maintenance technicians, tooling technicians and quality professionals.

The company has partnered with Ohio for more than 40 years, which, as luck would have it, is about the same timespan Honda has been making vehicles in the state. Both companies in November 2023 announced a partnership with The Ohio State University (OSU) to create a new battery cell research and development center that will open in 2025 in the Columbus Innovation District. The project leverages the $100 million JobsOhio Research and Development Center Grant program, which helps support JobsOhio’s targeted industries.

engineers at Ultium CellsIn this archive photo from late 2022, a tech lead and process engineer at Ultium Cells — the JV between General Motors and LG Energy Solution — inspect a cell as it proceeds through the assembly line at the company’s plant in Warren, Ohio.
Photo by Roger Mastroianni courtesy of Ultium Cells

Quick Progress, Max Flexibility Mark Honda Hub
Honda has made a habit of partnering ever since it started manufacturing motorcycles in Ohio in 1979. No reason to stop now. The company in February 2023 joined with LG Energy Solution to break ground on a 2.8-million-sq.-ft. EV battery plant in Fayette County where the companies will invest $3.5 billion initially and eventually $4.4 billion in a complex that will create 2,200 jobs.

In April, Honda said it is making “critical progress” in the establishment of its EV Hub in Ohio as it ramps up to production in late 2025. Retooling includes preparation in-house  Klaus Rosenfeld, CEO of Schaeffler AGassembly of the Intelligent Power Unit (IPU), which houses the EV battery and serves as part of the vehicle platform. Honda is targeting 100% zero emissions vehicle sales by 2040. The company said it “expects to hire 300 associates” at its Ohio EV Hub, while 300 associates at the Marysville Auto Plant will upskill for IPU assembly. Honda has committed to investing at least $700 million to transform its Marysville Auto Plant, East Liberty Auto Plant (ELP) and Anna Engine Plant (AEP) to lead the start of EV production in North America using batteries made at the JV with LG. East Liberty is also the location of Transportation Research Center Inc.’s headquarters and Ohio facility (TRC Ohio), located on 4,500 acres 40 miles northwest of Columbus. TRC Ohio operates 24/7 with a variety of facilities including road courses, wooded trails, a 7.5-mile high-speed oval test track and a 50-acre vehicle dynamics area.

 

We are convinced that the trend towards more electrification will continue.
— Klaus Rosenfeld, CEO of Schaeffler AG, on the company’s commitment to growth in the Americas and in Wooster and Dover, Ohio, February 2024

 

The momentum is contagious as EV ecosystem projects keep popping up. Mobis US Electrified Powertrain LLC, whose parent company is based in South Korea, in December 2023 announced it will invest $13.8 million and create 185 jobs at a new factory in Toledo, where it’s been operating for 20 years, to assemble battery packs for electric and plug-in hybrid EVs. The Ultium Cells plant in Warren is all systems go. GM is investing $55 million in its facility in Defiance, where $47 million will prepare the facility to build a variety of block castings to support future V-8 engine programs and $8 million will help build a casting development cell for castings to support future EV strategies.

EV battery production facility being constructed near Jeffersonville, OhioLG Energy Solution and Honda marked Leap Day on February 29, 2024, by erecting the final structural steel beam at the JV’s new $4.4 billion, 2,200-job EV battery production facility being constructed near Jeffersonville, Ohio, where ground was broken almost exactly one year earlier.
Photo courtesy of Honda

Honda says it too will have the flexibility to produce both internal combustion engine (ICE) and EVs on the same line at MAP, its first auto production facility in America, “giving the company a strategic advantage to quickly respond to shifting market demand while also demonstrating the ingenuity and experience of its associates to design a uniquely flexible assembly line. The EV Hub will serve as “a roadmap for production of electric vehicles in North America,” the company said. That roadmap became clearer in late April when the company said it would invest the equivalent of US $11 billion to “build a comprehensive electric vehicle value chain in Canada” based on the model created in Ohio.

It appears Ohio automotive innovation is worth trying to replicate. But nothing beats the original.

Adam Bruns
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns is editor in chief and head of publications for Site Selection, and before that has served as managing editor beginning in February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.

     





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