Editorial: Future is bright; production starts on EV batteries


A recent editorial by the Youngstown Vindicator:

Electric-vehicle battery cells are rolling off the line at our region’s newest manufacturing plant.

The exciting news was released last week on the same day that Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and other state officials were in town to tour the high-tech plant of the future.

Indeed, this is just one more step toward guaranteeing that our Mahoning Valley lives up to its lofty goal of becoming “Voltage Valley.”

The battery cells, being manufactured at the enormous new joint-venture Ultium Cells plant between General Motors and South Korea’s LG Energy Solution, will fuel GM vehicles of the future. The brand new 2.8 million-square foot facility is located along state Route 45 in Lordstown.

As Ultium Cells Vice President Tom Gallagher said last week, “It’s been a journey.”

We couldn’t be more thrilled to have our Valley as the starting point for that trip.

The battery cells are expected to begin shipping for use in several GM EV models by the end of this year. The batteries will go into GM electric vehicles, which currently include Hummer EVs, Chevrolet Silverado EV pickups and the Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV. That list is sure to grow.

While full production isn’t expected to be reached here until late 2023, already the factory is employing about 800 workers. It expects to exceed the 1,100 workers the company had anticipated it would need, officials there said.

Undeniably, the future is bright for production here. That’s because GM CEO Mary Barra has been unequivocal in the company’s future EV plans, stating GM’s goal is to make all of its passenger vehicles as EVs by 2035.

Pause for a moment to consider that comment — 2035 is only little more than 12 years away.

Visiting the plant last week along with the Ohio administration was JP Nauseef, president of JobsOhio, the state’s private, nonprofit economic development corporation.

Indeed, the interest and the excitement was palpable, considering the jobs and the impact on Ohio’s economy.

Along with the new Ultium Plant, the growing EV industry could be looking for even more workers if a new plant planned by Honda and LG Energy Solution lands in Ohio, or better yet, in the Mahoning Valley.

Honda announced plans for a new joint venture plant on Monday, and considering that the Japanese-based company already operates a large manufacturing plant in Marysville, Ohio, hopes are high that the company will look to our state as home for its planned new battery plant.

For now, though, DeWine was singing the praises of our Valley during Wednesday’s visit.

“It shows where the Mahoning Valley is going, it shows where the state of Ohio is going, and if you look at this from the big picture, Ohio has always been a great automotive state,” DeWine said during his visit. “We’re not only a great car producer, but automotive parts, and it’s very important as we make this transition to electric that a plant like this be here.”

Husted said the high-tech manufacturing plant lived up to the hype.

“I don’t know that I have ever seen a more high-tech automated process than we just had the opportunity to witness,” Husted said.

Indeed, Ohio and our Valley are well-positioned by getting into the EV business on the ground floor.

Automaking in our region has been a tradition. We are confident we now will be able to fulfill the demands that come with the next generation of auto manufacturing.

— Youngstown Vindicator, September 4, 2022