COLUMBUS, Ohio — Honda announced Tuesday it will build a $3.5 billion joint-venture electric vehicle battery factory at the Fayette County mega-site that will create 2,200 jobs.
During a special event at the Ohio Statehouse that included a multitude of state, local and federal officials, Honda and LG Energy Solution confirmed that their combined investments of at least $4.2 billion will create a total of 2,527 new jobs in Ohio between the establishment of a new electric vehicle battery plant at the Mid-West Mega Commerce Center — east of Interstate 71 and near U.S. Route 35, near Jeffersonville — and the retooling of existing Honda plants in Union, Logan, and Shelby counties for electric vehicle production.
Fayette County’s mega-site offers more than 1,500 acres and is billed as the state’s “largest certified job ready site.”
Local officials are calling this a transformational economic development for Fayette County and surrounding areas.
“This will change our world,” said Fayette County Commissioner Dan Dean following the Statehouse event. “We’re going to have a lot of well-paying jobs in the community. It will help our hospital because all of these people are going to be insured. Just the fact that it’s here in Fayette County, we will have new subdivisions I would say…new population growth. Fayette County has been 28,000 people for some time and I would expect this development will change not only the population in Washington Court House, but the Village of Jeffersonville and even the Village of Octa. So all of those areas are where new growth will show.”
Approximately 20 years ago, Fayette County was a finalist for a Honda plant, but it instead was built in Indiana.
“Since that time, the county has worked with the state and created a job-ready site. The state invested money, the county invested money and we upgraded the infrastructure,” said Dean. “For Fayette County, Honda locating here provides an opportunity for our kids to grow up, get educated and now live their futures in Fayette County. So many of our young people leave the county for a better opportunity. And now you’ll have great opportunities here.”
Fayette County Commissioner Tony Anderson introduced the large contingent of county, City of Washington Court House, township and village officials who were in attendance for the event.
“State Senator Bob Peterson (who was in attendance Tuesday) was a commissioner beside me when I started as commissioner in 2002. The first thing that happened was….we thought Honda was coming to Fayette County. Twenty years later, I’m a little bit of a slow worker, but we finally got Honda to come to Fayette County,” Anderson joked.
Both Anderson and Dean noted the contributions of Fayette County Engineer Steve Luebbe and Jamie Gentry (partner with Enterprise Advisory Group, LLC), who works as the county’s economic consultant, in making this project a reality.
Anderson thanked 10 local families “that years ago had the wisdom of putting the mega-site together”: the Burnett family, Bush family, Coe family, Creamer family, Davidson family, Hill family, Klontz family, Sollars family, Spahr family, and the David Martin family. Martin is the owner of the mega-site property and president of Bluegrass Farms of Ohio.
“They saw the vision of not just our little patch, but what it all looks like when we can present it to a face that makes life easier to bring folks and industries like this into our community,” Anderson said. “We appreciate David Martin’s considerable investment in our community and the vision he has long held and invested in.”
Following the event, Washington Court House City Manager Joe Denen said this economic development is a tremendous opportunity for everyone in the county.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with the trustees in Jefferson Township and the county commissioners,” said Denen. “This is really a regional opportunity for everyone in the surrounding counties. It will make a tremendous difference in our economic future for 50 years-plus.”
Construction on the Fayette County battery plant is expected to begin in early 2023, with a goal of starting mass production of advanced lithium-ion battery modules by 2025. The site is less than an hour’s drive from Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, and Chillicothe. It also includes access to utilities, including water, sewer, electricity, and natural gas.
With such a compressed timeline, Luebbe said there is much work to be done.
“We have about $100 million dollars worth of infrastructure improvements that need done. We have about $70 million on the water side, about $20 million on the sewer side and maybe another $10 million on the roadway infrastructure and utility lines,” Luebbe said. “We’ve been working with the company in providing the services that they need. There’s a lot of infrastructure work that needs to be done in a short period of time. We’ve been working toward this for a long time and I don’t think we could get a better company than Honda to be part of our community. The way I see it is we’re going to be in a cocoon for these two years and at the end of 2024, we’re going to emerge as something else. And I think it will be for the better.”
Tuesday’s announcement came exactly 45 years to the day after Honda leadership visited the Ohio Statehouse in 1977 to announce plans for its first vehicle production facility in the United States — the Marysville Motorcycle Plant.
“It has been more than four decades since Honda first saw great promise in Ohio, and although the way we manufacture vehicles is evolving, one thing that will stay the same is the quality of our workforce and their ability to get the job done,” Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said during the event. “Honda and LG Energy Solution now join a long list of companies that have looked all over the country for the best place to do business and have chosen Ohio because we have the ideal economic climate and an innovative and talented workforce. Today’s announcement is further proof that there is no better place to be right now than in the great state of Ohio.”
Honda has a legacy of choosing Ohio for trailblazing initiatives. In addition to choosing Ohio for its motorcycle plant on Oct. 11, 1977, the Marysville Auto Plant produced the very first Honda Accord on Nov. 1, 1982, and the Anna Engine Plant, which opened in 1985, now produces more than 1 million four-cylinder, V-6, and turbo engines for Honda auto plants throughout North America. The East Liberty Auto Plant opened in 1989 and has manufactured over 4.5 million Honda and Acura vehicles since its inception. In 1992, Honda opened a major product development center in Raymond, Ohio, that now creates many of the vehicles built in Ohio.
“Honda is proud of our history in Ohio, where our U.S. manufacturing operations began more than four decades ago. Now, as we expand Honda’s partnership with Ohio, we are investing in a workforce that will create the power source for our future Honda and Acura electric vehicles,” said Bob Nelson, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “We want to thank the leaders of the state of Ohio, as well as in Fayette County, Jefferson Township, Jeffersonville, and Washington Court House for welcoming this new joint venture between Honda and LG Energy Solution and giving us another Ohio community to call home.”
Last month, both companies announced an agreement to establish a new joint venture company to produce lithium-ion batteries in the U.S. to power Honda and Acura EV models. The pouch-type batteries produced at the new plant will be supplied to Honda facilities.
“In another major step toward electrification, LG Energy Solution’s innovative battery technologies will not only power Honda’s brand-new EV models but support Ohio’s green economy. We extend our gratitude to everyone who played a role in making this happen,” said Dong-Myung Kim, executive vice president of Advanced Automotive Battery Division at LG Energy Solution. “With our commitment to building the world-best quality products, together with Honda, we look forward to not only creating thousands of quality jobs here in Ohio but growing together with the community.”
American Honda Motor Co., Inc., LG Energy Solution, the DeWine-Husted Administration, JobsOhio, the Dayton Development Coalition, One Columbus, and other state, county, and local officials and partners all collaborated to bring the project to Fayette County.
Honda plans to start selling models built on its own EV underpinnings starting in 2026, but it will also continue to co-develop affordable EVs with GM, to be built by Honda. The Japanese automaker plans to introduce 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2030, with plans to sell all zero-emission automobiles by 2040.
Company workers in Ohio have been building gas-electric hybrid vehicles for years, and that experience will help in the switch to EVs, Nelson said. The Marysville plant currently employs 3,500 people, while East Liberty has 2,500. The Anna engine plant has about 2,300 workers.
Honda’s announcement follows several waves of battery and electric vehicle assembly plant announcements in the U.S. and North America as automakers try to establish a domestic supply chain for the next generation of vehicle propulsion. Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Hyundai-Kia, Stellantis and VinFast of Vietnam have announced plans for 10 U.S. battery plants, many with joint venture companies.
In addition, Ford, GM, Hyundai-Kia and VinFast have announced plans to build new electric vehicle assembly plants in the U.S., or to retool older plants to handle EVs.
A new U.S. law, the Inflation Reduction Act, gives them even more incentive to build batteries in North America. It includes a tax credit of up to $7,500 that could be used to defray the cost of purchasing an electric vehicle. But to qualify for the full credit, the electric vehicle must contain a battery built in North America with 40% of the metals mined or recycled on the continent.
Nelson said the company has been planning the battery and plant investments for years, well ahead of the law’s passage earlier this year.
Electric vehicle sales are expected to rise dramatically between now and 2030 in the U.S. and globally, but even at the start of the next decade, they will be just over one-third of U.S. new vehicle sales. The LMC Automotive consulting firm expects EVs to be 5.6% of U.S. sales this year, rising to 13.5% by 2025 and 36.4% in 2030.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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