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The Future of Electric, Hybrid + Hydrogen Vehicles is in the Columbus Region

The Columbus Region will be front and center of this fast-growing industry.

Jun 22, 2022 // By Deb Scherer

After decades of talk, it’s finally happening – the proliferation of electric, hybrid and hydrogen vehicles. With that sector development comes a lot of learning, from technology and R&D to supply chain chaos.

If history provides any lessons (and so far, that is the case), the Columbus Region will be front and center of this nascent, but fast-growing industry. Already hydrogen technology firm Hyperion Motors and smart battery systems producer Forsee Power have chosen locations in the Region.

Because of where a bulk of automotive production industry has settled since its inception, Central Ohio holds a distinct advantage when it comes to location and proximity to this new age of automotive manufacturing. And what attracted major auto research institutions to the Columbus Region is equally as enticing to the innovators of the next era.

The Geographic Center of Auto

With 75% of North American assembly plants producing all-electric or hybrid models sitting within 500 miles, the Columbus Region is a true automotive hub. Already 15 electric vehicle battery facilities are within that same radius, with the network of suppliers following a similar pattern.

According to the report, “Ohio Battery Supply Chain Opportunities,” co-sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council and JobsOhio, more than 90% of Ohio’s current exports are either directly or indirectly related to the automotive industry. From beginning to final assembly, the Columbus Region has the network and the manpower to handle the complete supply chain for the electric, hybrid, and hydrogen vehicle market.

 


Map of electric vehicle production in North America, where 75% of plants producing EVs are within 500 miles of Columbus.

Map of electric vehicle production in North America, where 75% of plants producing EVs are within 500 miles of Columbus. Updated February 2022.

A Supply Chain Dream

Location is one thing, but infrastructure is quite another. With four intermodal terminals, 150+ daily flights, and one of the world’s only cargo-dedicated airports (Rickenbacker International Airport) just ten miles away, receiving supplies fast and funneling them to the correct destination is easier in Ohio.

Of particular interest to electric, hybrid and hydrogen vehicle companies are the four intermodal terminals in the region, which handle 800,000 container lifts annually. Norfolk Southern and CSX provide coast-to-coast service, with double-stacked freight trains traveling from east coast ports via the Heartland and Gateway corridors. The state’s Top 10-ranked foreign trade zone makes it possible to flawlessly receive auto supplies and raw materials needed for assembly and production from around the world.

This comes in handy, as parts for plug-in hybrid cars, EV charging stations, and most all materials relating to electric vehicles are currently made overseas. Ohio’s access to airports, rail, trucking, and intermodal terminals proves a major benefit for international imports and exports.

Robust R&D

The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) at Ohio State University has made huge strides in furthering the research and education of vehicle electrification. CAR has programs specializing in the development and demonstration of hybrid and electric vehicles, EV charging and grid interaction, electric machine design, and more. The Center also is focusing on the area of energy storage and battery management systems, even opening a new battery testing lab to accommodate for the increase in electric car and electric vehicle research projects.

Complementing CAR’s efforts is the Transportation Research Center (TRC), the largest independent vehicle testing and proving grounds in the United States. Testing everything from safety of all automobiles to connected vehicles, TRC is elevating advanced technologies that are changing the face of mobility and automotive technology worldwide.

There’s also Honda’s R&D center. The company has jumped into the EV game via the parent company’s $64 billion bet on the sector. It’s existing partnership and ongoing discussions with General Motors highlight the advantage of proximity to the rest of the industry – GM is headquartered a few hours north near Detroit, and its EV Ultium battery plant in Lordstown, OH is even closer.

Map of automotive R&D operations in the Columbus Region.


Map of automotive R&D operations in the Columbus Region.

In fact, that Lordstown plant was formerly a shuttered GM factory for traditional vehicles before EVs breathed new life into it. Like many things in automotive, what’s old is new again. The same can be said of the Columbus Region’s place in the industry – a central hub with the infrastructure to sustain success for decades to come.

Interested in learning more about the automotive sector in the Columbus Region? Contact us today to learn how we can guide your company through the location decision process.


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Article // Automotive