On Tuesday, Oct. 11, Honda made national headlines by announcing its plan to build a $3.5 billion joint-venture electric vehicle battery factory at a Fayette County mega site that will create 2,200 jobs.
The announcement came exactly 45 years to the day after Honda leadership visited the Ohio Statehouse in 1977 to announce plans for its first vehicle production facility in the United States — the Marysville Motorcycle Plant.
AIM Media Midwest spoke with Bob Nelson, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., to learn more about the project and why the Fayette County location (along Interstate 71 near Jeffersonville) was ultimately chosen.
“We do have a great success record over the last 40 years, locating our facilities and communities for our operations and we expect that this success will continue with the joint venture with LG Energy Solution in Fayette County. There’s a number of things that we were looking for,” Nelson said. “Obviously, we needed a large piece of property that could fit our needs and have access to major transportation routes and resources. One of the predominant resources that is key is that we have the right workforce. We believe that we can get a good, diverse hiring pool in the surrounding area, including Columbus, Dayton and southern Ohio. All of those factors were key in determining to locate where we did. We think we have a strong position that will be able to attract a good quality workforce.”
He continued, “We feel like the location that we chose puts us in a good position with the necessary infrastructure and resources. We are off to a great start with our relationship with everyone that we’re dealing with, the county and the local leaders. Based on that great start that we’re off to, we expect that we can continue to keep that good relationship and keep things moving forward.”
So, when construction begin?
“We have plans to begin construction early next year, so that we complete the production facility by the end of 2024,” said Nelson. “This will enable us to start mass production of the battery modules by the end of 2025.”
Nelson said the exact square footage of the facility has not been determined, but with 2,200 associates he expects it to be very large. In terms of production, the rate will be measured in gigawatts per hour. Nelson expects this plant to produce roughly 40 gigawatts per hour.
Honda plans to start selling models built on its own EV underpinnings in 2026, but it will also continue to co-develop affordable EVs with GM, to be built by Honda. The Japanese automaker plans to introduce 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2030, with plans to sell all zero-emission automobiles by 2040.
Company workers in Ohio have been building gas-electric hybrid vehicles for years, and that experience will help in the switch to EVs, Nelson said. The Marysville plant currently employs 3,500 people, while East Liberty has 2,500. The Anna engine plant has about 2,300 workers.
Honda’s announcement follows several waves of battery and electric vehicle assembly plant announcements in the U.S. and North America as automakers try to establish a domestic supply chain for the next generation of vehicle propulsion. Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Hyundai-Kia, Stellantis and VinFast of Vietnam have announced plans for 10 U.S. battery plants, many with joint venture companies.
Electric vehicle sales are expected to rise dramatically between now and 2030 in the U.S. and globally, but even at the start of the next decade, they will reportedly be just over one-third of U.S. new vehicle sales. The LMC Automotive consulting firm expects EVs to be 5.6% of U.S. sales this year, rising to 13.5% by 2025 and 36.4% in 2030.