Journal Opinion: EV Adoption and Politics

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Electric vehicles are the future and the Mahoning Valley is poised to seize the moment as the automotive industry undergoes seismic changes over the next decade.

We proudly describe this area as Voltage Valley and we attach to that identification our ingenuity and determination to be part of the reindustrialization.

So we find it puzzling that the transition to electric vehicles has become politicized, given that consumers and automotive OEMs are leading the charge.

Among the takeaways from the Sept. 17 Trump rally in downtown Youngstown – and there were many, topped by the block of QAnon saluters who arrived here from parts unknown – were the remarks denigrating the EV industry’s potential made by the former president and the U.S. Senate candidate he came here to promote, J.D. Vance.

Vance said at the Covelli Centre rally that EV development wouldn’t help the Mahoning Valley.  “Is that going to benefit Youngstown auto workers? Of course not,” he said.

The GOP nominee is on record opposing the $740 billion spending bill passed by Democrats in August that funds a $7,500 tax credit to individuals buying a new EV and a $4,000 tax credit for buying a used one.

“What it basically does is subsidize rich people to buy electric vehicles at the expense of the Ohio automotive industry,” Vance told Fox Business. The incentives basically subsidize China “that manufactures all that technology,” he added.

 We understand politics is politics and successful candidates play to the audience they are addressing. At the Covelli Centre, Vance and Trump’s EV remarks did not.

Ultium Cells’ $2.3 billion EV battery cell plant is now under production in Lordstown. Nearby, Foxconn’s Lordstown Assembly complex is expected to soon begin limited production of Lordstown Motors Corp.’s first vehicle, the all-electric Endurance pickup. Meanwhile, the complex is anticipating high-volume production of Fisker Inc.’s Pear EV, slated for sometime in 2024.

Together, these ventures could employ thousands in the Valley, resurrecting a regional auto industry that many thought was dead after General Motors Co. shuttered its Lordstown facility in 2019.

Former president Donald Trump, who headlined the Vance rally, said EV battery range is limited and the price of these vehicles is too high. Fair enough. But then he said, “Remember the batteries are all made in China, right?”

Ultium’s batteries and cells – which will be used to supply GM’s EV portfolio – are manufactured in the United States. While materials found in batteries such as lithium are mined in China, GM has secured partnerships to source these raw materials in North America.

Yes, the adoption of electric vehicles is in its infancy – with the Mahoning Valley present at its creation. Those who politicize this transition are out of touch with the benefits to this region and nation.