Story at a glance

  • American automaker General Motors partnered with LG Chem to invest more than $2 billion in a car battery factory in Youngstown, Ohio.
  • The new plant will create more than 1,000 jobs, coming after a GM facility closure in March.
  • Competition in the field is still heavy, with China as a chief competitor.

Hearing the term “electric vehicle hub,” images of San Francisco, Los Angeles or perhaps Seattle might come to mind. 

General Motors (GM) has other plans, however, and the next electric car battery hotspot could be in the Lordstown-Youngstown area of northeastern Ohio. 

This December, GM announced that it aims to open a new plant. In partnership with the South Korean company LG Chem, a subsidiary of LG, the new venture will likely benefit the new electric car manufacturer Lordstown Motors, which is setting up shop in the GM Assembly plant that shuttered in March.

Proponents say that the new factory will be one of the largest electric vehicle battery cell factories in the world. 

The plant will create approximately 1,100 jobs, helping offset the 6,000 jobs lost when GM shuttered its Lordstown assembly plant in March. GM and LG Chem plan to invest about $2.3 billion in the joint venture. 

The project has been championed by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who believes bringing the electric vehicle industry to Youngstown is the best way to revive its troubled economy

“For a long time in our community, we were chasing smokestacks, chasing things that were on the decline,” Ryan said. “We're starting to move in a good direction."

After the half-century old GM factory closed its doors in early March, the Lordstown economy has been badly shaken. Investing more money in innovative products, like electric vehicles, might be the best bet to reintroduce industry into the Rust Belt, say supporters. 

Currently, the Lordstown-Youngstown area already operates an electric battery testing lab and has businesses that focus on energy and additive manufacturing via 3D printing, but competition from industrial titans like China and South Korea casts doubt over the plan. 

Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns admits that opening the electric car plant is a “pretty lofty goal” but believes that, with time, the plant will be running at full-speed and “put the area on the map.” The company hopes to release electric pickups in the near future.

GM plans to sell 20 models of electric cars by 2023.

Published on Dec 27, 2019