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Hints emerge that new $4.4B Honda battery factory will be built in Ohio

Honda recalls more than 1M cars over battery fires
Posted at 12:47 PM, Aug 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-29 18:05:27-04

Honda Motor Co will set up a new lithium-ion battery plant for electric vehicles in the U.S. with Korean battery supplier LG Energy Solution Ltd, with national reports citing anonymous sources that the new factory will be in Ohio — and state leaders broadly hinting at relevance to Ohio.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Ohio is working with Honda and LG to win the location decision for the new facility.

“Ohio’s advanced manufacturing future is bright,” DeWine said. “With automakers moving to manufacture more and more electric vehicles, we want Honda to expand its operation in Ohio.

He added: “We are working with Honda and LG to ensure that they choose Ohio for this new electric battery plant.”

“More to come on this,” Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said early Monday, hours before DeWine’s statement, in retweeting a Wall Street Journal story on the announcement.

Husted was tweeting from his personal account.

“The companies didn’t disclose where in the U.S. the factory would be built, but people familiar with the matter said it was planned for Ohio,” the Journal said in its story.

A site search consultant who has worked with Honda in the past said Southwest Ohio could emerge as a prime location because it is halfway between Honda's two assembly plants in Columbus and its 14-year-old Civic assembly plant in Greensburg, Indiana.

Columbus is also gearing up for a $20 billion investment by Intel to build a chip manufacturing plant in Licking County.

Columbus is "very tight right now from a labor prespective," said John Boyd, founder and principal of The Boyd Group. "So, I would expect Honda to look at markets like Dayton, with its long history with General Motors, as well as sites in Cincinnati, given the abundance of technology skill sets that Honda and LG would find attractive."

“While JobsOhio does not share whether or not we are in project discussions with companies, any global leader in auto manufacturing would have to look at Ohio because of our many attributes, including a skilled workforce, comprehensive supply chain, and access to the North American market,” JobsOhio, the state’s private development arm, said in response to questions from the Dayton Daily News. “Ohio has had a long-standing relationship with Honda and is at the forefront of the next generation of advanced manufacturing. We defer any comment to Honda.”

Honda and LG said in a joint statement they will invest a total of $4.4 billion and establish a new plant in the U.S. The plant aims to have an annual production capacity of approximately 40GWh.

The pouch-type batteries produced at the plant will be supplied solely to Honda plants in North America, the companies said.

“While the location for the joint venture plant is yet to be finalized, based on Honda’s plans for EV production in North America, the two companies aim to begin construction in early 2023, in order to enable the start of mass production of advanced lithium-ion battery cells by the end of 2025,” the companies said.

“We are not going to comment on speculation and we will share more details about the location at a later date,” said Chris Abbruzzese, a Honda spokesman in Ohio

Questions were sent to JobsOhio and Husted media representatives.

LG and Honda are going forward “on the shared belief that expanding local electric vehicle production and ensuring the timely supply of batteries would put them in the best position to target the rapidly-growing North American EV market,” the companies said in their shared statement.

“Our joint venture with Honda, which has significant brand reputation, is yet another milestone in our mid- to long-term strategy of promoting electrification in the fast-growing North American market,” said Youngsoo Kwon, CEO of LG Energy Solution. “Since our ultimate goal is to earn our valued customers’ trust and respect, we aspire to position ourselves as a leading battery innovator, working with Honda in achieving its core initiatives for electrification, as well as providing sustainable energy solutions to discerning end consumers.”

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