Legislation Would Provide Incentives, Task Force for EV Development in Ohio

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – State Sen. Michael Rulli, R-Salem, announced Wednesday legislation to encourage development of the electric and alternative fuel-vehicle industry across the state.

“I saw the birth of Lordstown Motors and I saw Voltage Valley develop,” Rulli said during a press conference in Columbus hosted by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. “Then I saw LG Chem come to the area and invest $2 billion in making electric batteries and I understood what the future meant.”

The bill, called Accelerating Ohio’s Auto Industry, would address issues such as workforce development and retooling, EV infrastructure improvements and incentives for customers and commercial fleets to make it easier for them to transition to a zero-carbon footprint.

Rulli said Ohio lacked any formal legislation that could provide incentives to sustain the industry’s growth.

The proposed legislation calls for spending $10 million toward workforce development and another $15 million toward retooling to accommodate EV and alternate fuel manufacturing.

“We know there are a lot of automotive parts made in Ohio,” Rulli said. “We want to make all EV parts in Ohio – not just the vehicles, not just the batteries, but all the parts that go along with it.”

He pointed out developments in Lordstown, where Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn has agreed to purchase Lordstown Motors’ assembly plant for $230 million and act as a contract manufacturer for Lordstown Motors’ electric vehicles. He also emphasized Ultium Cells LLC’s – a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution – decision to invest $2.3 billion in a new EV battery cell manufacturing plant there as proof of Ohio’s competitiveness in the EV space.

A second part of the bill would provide incentives for consumers and organizations purchasing EV or hybrid vehicles. Those who purchase a new all-electric vehicle could qualify for sales tax exemptions of $2,000, while a new plug-in hybrid would award $1,000 in exemptions. The purchase of a used, all-electric vehicle would qualify for a $1,000 tax exemption.

Rulli’s bill also calls for the creation of an EV task force that could establish a blueprint for the industry’s growth, the senator said. “We will lay out an electrification blueprint for the state to show how us how we go forward over the next 20 years,” he said.

The fourth item on Rulli’s plan is to create a sustainable EV infrastructure – in this case, electric charging stations – throughout the state in order to accommodate development.

“The ugly truth in America is that we have no infrastructure for the EV revolution and that needs to change right here in Ohio,” Rulli said. “We can be on the cutting edge of it.”

Last week, the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Energy announced it would award Ohio $140 million over five years to install EV chargers throughout the state, most presumably along the interstates.

Steve Stivers, president of the Ohio Chamber, says 17% of the state’s economy is tied to the automotive industry.

“The auto manufacturers have already committed to invest $330 billion somewhere in new infrastructure, new plants, to make the new vehicles,” he said. “We want those investments here in Ohio. We want to makes sure we can get every bit as we can.”

Language on the legislation has yet to be finalized, Stivers said, and notes that the Ohio Chamber supports a technology-neutral bill that is inclusive to other clean-fuel technologies.

“We applaud Senator Rulli on his comprehensive approach to support this historic industry through its technology transition and working to capture the many investments being made by electric vehicle manufacturers and its supply chain,” said Guy Coviello, president & CEO, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber. “When passed, this legislation would help to sustain and grow Ohio’s economy for years to come.”

John Walsh, CEO of Endera Motors, an EV manufacturer based in Ohio, says his company is growing and notes commercial EVs for fleets are now more economically viable.

“We want Ohio to be the leader in this industry, and that means jobs,” he said.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.