Economic Development

Hyperion Motors to Develop Hydrogen Fuel Tech at TBEIC

WARREN, Ohio – Hyperion Motors, a company developing cars fueled by hydrogen power cells, is set to sign an agreement to bring its engineering division to the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center downtown.

Representatives of the Hyperion Co., founded by Warren native Angelo Kafantaris, will be in town Sept. 5 to finalize the agreement with TBEIC, a partnership that will allow the California-based company “to explore growth opportunities in the Mahoning Valley” through its Hyperion Motors division, he said Thursday, 

Once that’s complete, Kafantaris said, Hyperion will begin work on further developing it’s technology. Hyperion Motors has built prototype cars, but there’s still work to be done between its current stage and moving into the tooling and manufacturing stage required to produce the cars.

“There’s technology related to the creation of hydrogen and the propulsion of hydrogen that will be developed at TBEIC,” Kafantaris said, talhough Hyperion may not ultimately house its entire engineering division at the incubator. “We’ll probably have, in the early stages, someone at TBEIC but it will probably evolve as we look at locations in the area to house an engineering group.”

Hyperion Motors has yet to unveil its car, but will do so “very soon,” Kafantaris said. Models have been shown to investors in Ohio, he added. Among those investing in Hyperion is Columbus-based Loud Capital.

Founded in 2011, Hyperion has its headquarters in the Los Angeles suburb of Orange, where it employs roughly 150. The company’s focus, the CEO said, is “energy creation, storage and propulsion.”

Kafantaris, who says he “grew up literally four blocks from where TBEIC is,” has a background in automotive design and engineering and says that a return to Ohio was always planned.

“This is very serendipitous that this has all come full circle,” he said. “I think Ohio has been taken advantage of by companies that are only interested in manufacturing jobs. For the Valley to control its own destiny, it must master its own growth in technology and jobs related to technology, engineering and entrepreneurship.”

Hyperion’s executive team: Jason Briney, president; Tony Ramirez, chief operating officer; Angelo Kafantaris, founder and CEO; co-founder Lawrence Lubbers and Jon Thoma, director Business Development.

Kafantaris pointed to the decision by General Motors to idle the Lordstown Complex as a signal of the shift the Mahoning Valley needs to take in moving to developing technology instead of traditional manufacturing, as well as the importance of local leadership.

“We had always intended on having a branch of Hyperion in Ohio for that exact reason. I felt like now was the time. I wanted to remind people that we can do this ourselves. Ultimately, for Ohio to succeed, they need businesses that are committed to the long term benefits of Ohio as a state, not just tax breaks,” he said. “I’m committed to having one of our divisions, Hyperion Motors, have an arm in the area so that we can grow that intellectual property that will be so valuable to Ohio in the future.”

It’s that sort of attitude, said TBEIC’s CEO, Rick Stockburger, that attracted the incubator and auto manufacturer.

“My saying is that the Valley’s No. 1 export is talented young people. People like Angelo are trying to change that. He wants to come back and provide those good-paying tech jobs,” he said. “They’ve gotten offers for hundreds of millions of dollars of investment into their company. Because of the work our team has done here and the community, they want to be here.”

At TBEIC’s Energy Storage Building Efficiency Conference Sept. 23 and 24, Kafantaris will take part in a panel discussion alongside Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns and Tesla business development manager Tiara Thurston. 

“We’re going to be talking about why Lordstown and Hyperion want to be here, want to manufacture here,” Stockburger said. “Tiara from Tesla will talk about the importance of adopting electric vehicles and energy storage from the standpoint of their power wall. It’s about how transportation is integrating with energy storage.”

Locally, Kafantaris said the quality of local resources was also an appealing factor. He pointed to the success of America Makes and the Youngstown Business Incubator in downtown Youngstown, suggesting even the possibility of integrating additive manufacturing into Hyperion’s eventual production.

There’s also the universities in the state. Youngstown State University has worked alongside America Makes and the YBI on additive manufacturing technologies, while schools such as Kent State University and Ohio State University could also provide a pipeline of engineers.

“We want to provide the option for Ohio’s residents to stay in Ohio and fulfill their goals. I had to travel out of state to pursue my expertise and education in automotive design and engineering. I had to travel out of state to pursue it professionally,” Kafantaris said. “If we can retain that talent, it’d be a key goal.”

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.