Automotive Industry Focus: Electric Vehicles Are Charging To The Top

Electric vehicles are no longer the wave of a distant future: 2021 will be a breakout year for e-vehicles in the wake of General Motors’ announcement that it will end production of internal combustion engines in 2035.


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Electric vehicles are no longer the wave of a distant future: 2021 will be a breakout year for e-vehicles in the wake of General Motors’ announcement that it will end production of internal combustion engines in 2035.
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Electric Vehicles: Charging To The Top

Electric vehicles are no longer the wave of a distant future: 2021 will be a breakout year for e-vehicles in the wake of General Motors’ announcement that it will end production of internal combustion engines in 2035.

Automotive Industry Focus: Electric Vehicles Are Charging To The Top

By the BF Staff
From the February 2021 Issue

Analytics company Blastpoint has released a study on electric vehicles, finding that there was a more than 30 percent increase in sales in 2020 as well as a projected 71 percent increase in 2021, despite significant reductions in general car usage and movement during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2021 EV Outlook Report also showed that there was a 25 percent increase in the number of public charging stations last year and minor increases in the use of electric vehicles for business fleets.

“The COVID-19 pandemic was responsible for slower EV commercial expansion, but 2020 still saw explosive sales across Europe and China, and an uptick in U.S. sales,” Alison Alvarez, CEO of Blastpoint, said in a statement to TechRepublic.

Electric Vehicles
Autonomous mobility in action at the 33 Smart Corridor in Marysville, OH.

“In 2021, as charging infrastructure grows, businesses recover and restart their fleet electrification plans, and state and federal tax incentives return, the American EV industry is poised to flourish anew,” Alvarez added.

The report said the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the rise in sales of electric vehicles in the U.S., but the industry still saw huge booms in Europe and China. The study found that overall, more than 345,000 electric vehicles were sold in the United States in 2020 despite the economic downturn, surpassing the 245,000 sold in 2019.

The best-selling new models, according to the report, are all Tesla models. The Tesla Model 3 sold 38,000 in 2020, while the Tesla Model Y and Model X sold 18,000 and 9,000 vehicles, respectively.

GADSDEN, AL: PROXIMITY TO OEMS

Located strategically in the center of the Southeast automotive industry: Gadsden, AL is an advanced manufacturing target. Gadsden’s location is ideal because of its proximity to OEMs and key transportation networks. Connected by interstate, air and rail, manufacturers are in the heart of the Southeastern manufacturing environment and can service clients throughout the region. Located in Northeast Alabama on Interstate Highway 59, Gadsden is located centrally between, Huntsville, Chattanooga, Birmingham and Atlanta.

Transportation, workforce and quality of life make Gadsden the perfect industrial location for any advanced manufacturing company. Gadsden is 30 minutes away from one OEM and a morning’s drive away from eight others. Additionally, Gadsden’s workforce is second to none, with 100,000 people in a community located under a two-hour drive to Honda, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai and the just-announced Mazda-Toyota plant with a workforce of 401,439 persons living within a 30-mile radius of Gadsden’s airport.

Employment in Alabama’s automotive manufacturing sector now approaches 40,000, surging from just a few thousand in the days before Mercedes. Around 27,000 of these jobs are in Alabama’s growing automotive supplier network, which now counts over 200 companies.

Employment and production will receive a massive boost when the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA partnership opens a $1.6 billion joint venture assembly plant in Alabama. Construction began in 2019, and the Huntsville facility will employ up to 4,000 workers after production kicks off in 2021. Annual production capacity will be 300,000 vehicles.

Gadsden has a ready supply of labor of all types, from unskilled to highly trained workers ready to tackle your next project. The workforce is highly adaptable as Gadsden is unique in having a variety of training systems in place that can design workforce training programs to meet any employer’s specific needs, including welding and robotics.

Gadsden is ready to work and work hard. A total of 1,346 students graduated from high school in May of 2019, in the Gadsden City, Atalla City and Etowah County School Systems. 481 students enrolled in industrial-related technology training classes at Gadsden State Community College for the 2019 Fall Semester. These students have led to 1,141 active resumes and 4,977 self-registrations in the system for employment at the Gadsden Career Center office.

Due to these training and workforce development initiatives, many industries have expanded their operations within the region. The area has succeeded in retaining over 1,865 jobs within the industrial corridor. The following industries have continued to be a part of the success story within Gadsden by retaining employees: MS-2, Decatur Plastics, Prince Metal Stamping, Cintas, Inteva, Keystone Foods, Southern Cold Storage and Fehrer Automotive. These companies include six tier one or tier two automobile suppliers. This industrial sector continues to expand as these suppliers move into servicing OEMs and play a critical role in the shift to electric vehicle manufacturing.

Gadsden State Community College offers a two-year associate in an applied science degree program in Automotive Manufacturing Technology, preparing students with a workforce-ready core curriculum focusing on electronics, troubleshooting, programmable logic controllers and robotic welding. The program’s mission is to provide well-prepared, multi-skilled individuals who can perform troubleshooting and technical work to minimize downtime in the manufacturing process. Not geared to producing assembly line employees, this program focuses on electronic and automation technicians.

This 76-credit-hour degree program incorporates a minimum of 15 general education credit hours, 25 technical core credit hours and 36 credit hours of technical electives. A 43-credit-hour and a 28-credit-hour Automotive Manufacturing Technology certificate are also offered.

Examples of credit programs in the College’s Technical Division include:

  • Automotive Manufacturing
  • Electrical Technology
  • Electronic Engineering Technology
  • Industrial Automation
  • Mechanical Design
  • Precision Machining
  • Welding

Additionally, most of Gadsden’s available industrial sites are located adjacent to the Northeast Alabama Regional Airport. The Airport has a main runway of 6,802 x 150 feet (2,073 x 46 meters), a secondary runway of 4,806 x 100 feet (1,465 x 30 meters) and a Category 1 Instrument Landing System. On average, there are 300 takeoffs and landings per week, including touch-and-goes. The airport serves general aviation traffic, including corporate jets. The airport is served by Northeast Alabama Regional Aviation, a fixed-base operator (FBO) providing Shell Avgas and Jet A fuel, maintenance and repairs, oxygen service, aircraft parking (ramp or tiedown), hangar rentals, aircraft rentals and charters, flight training, crew, rental cars and a passenger terminal and lounge.

Gadsden offers a unique value proposition with a low cost of living but an amazing quality of life. Gadsden is in Northeast Alabama amidst an array of beautiful natural features. Whether you are hiking the Black Creek Trails at Noccalula Falls, exploring Lookout Mountain, fishing the Coosa River or participating in any number of unique events hosted by the city, Gadsden has the amenities of the city, with a laid back lifestyle of a small town.

OHIO: DRIVING TO CHANGE THE FUTURE

Ohio’s automotive advantage translates into real world strategic value for companies. Powered by one of the largest automotive workforces in the Midwest, both seasoned professionals and skilled newcomers build quality products.

Within the state, Ohio has a full automotive supply chain and a geographic location with the added bonus of proximity to a high concentration of automotive establishments in North America. Companies in Ohio have accessibility to customers and suppliers, ultimately increasing speed to market and minimizing risk of supply disruptions.

In Ohio, you will find a full end-to-end supply chain with companies represented across the automotive spectrum. When you’re here, you’re in good “company.”

Every day, Ohio’s automotive industry is working toward a faster, lighter, safer and more stylish future. Ohio is where companies can take an idea, make it tangible and test its limits. It is where Honda first chose to establish its U.S. home and continues to have a significant presence.

The only thing that runs deeper than generations of automotive expertise is the collective pride Ohio has in moving the industry forward. Every day, automotive advancements in Ohio have a global impact.

In Ohio, companies can:

  • Find skilled, experienced employees. Ohio’s large, experienced and well-trained automotive workforce means companies can find the talent they need.
  • Access more customers and suppliers. Ohio’s central location within the North American automotive supply chain helps reduce transportation costs. Ohio is also home to seven light vehicle original equipment manufacturers (OEM), two commercial vehicle OEMs and the iconic Airstream company.
  • Seize a competitive business climate. Low taxes and healthy state finances encourage investment and reduce the cost of doing business.
  • Innovate through collaboration. A dedication to collaboration increases the opportunity for companies to make improvements and facilitate new discoveries.

Ohio is a leading producer and supplier of key automotive components and raw materials for the North American automotive industry.

Ohio is also a hub for advancing smart mobility technology. The state is a living lab for designing, testing and deploying this new way to move products and people.

Electric Vehicles
(Source: JobsOhio)

With an unmatched combination of partnerships between companies, government and public-private institutions, technology and automotive companies alike can find the resources they need to successfully commercialize this technology.

By creating an environment to support changing how we move, from developing batteries for electric vehicles to connected infrastructures, Ohio is the perfect place to drive the future of smart mobility.

After 52 years of operations that produced more than 16 million vehicles, the General Motors (GM) assembly plant in Lordstown, OH, shut down in March 2019. As a result, some 1,500 workers lost their jobs. However, GM brought a new opportunity that would set Ohio up to play a key role in the future of electric vehicle (EV) production.

GM and Ohio have a history dating back to the mid-1900s. Over that time, GM has invested billions of dollars into the state, which is a leader in the North American automotive industry. Ohio has the second-largest automotive workforce in the U.S., and its geographic location makes it possible for automotive companies to reach 77 percent of North American automotive assembly production within a one-day drive.

In recent years, GM decided to restructure its business model to cut losses and focus on its most profitable operations, which included furthering its investment in EVs. Meanwhile, LG Chem, Korea’s largest diversified chemical company, was considering establishing a battery cell manufacturing plant in the southeastern region of the U.S. Their shared interest in the EV space brought the two companies together to consider forming a joint venture (JV) to mass produce lithium-ion batteries for EVs.

As they evaluated where to establish this new EV battery manufacturing facility, the JV team reached out to Ohio for consideration of this exciting project.

The joint venture aimed to begin site work in early 2020 to meet their aggressive production goals. Ohio only had a few months to work out the details to win the investment. JobsOhio’s unique, privately-funded economic development organization model made it possible for the organization to quickly present options and data, including cost analysis related to taxes and labor, as well as the overall cost of doing business in Ohio.

Challenges assembling the acreage required for the project sprung up quickly. Potential sites had issues with existing wetlands. Many entities worked with the JV team to resolve issues and identify a viable site.

The multi-billion dollar investment also required financial support from Ohio for the state to be considered for the project as the cost of the investment by GM and LG Chem would be significant.

Finally, in December 2019, GM and LG Chem announced the creation of their 50/50 joint venture, known as Ultium Cells LLC, to mass produce batteries for future EVs in Lordstown, creating 1,000 jobs. Ultium Cells will be an integral part of GM’s ambitious plans to develop 20 EV models by 2023, and it represents an investment of up to $2.3 billion through the new, equally-owned JV. At the completion of the project, this facility will be one of the largest cell manufacturing plants in the world.

As the world transitions from internal combustion engines to EVs, battery technology and production will be the new backbone of the automotive industry. This project marks the start of a new era in Lordstown, the Mahoning Valley and Ohio. Locals in the Lordstown-Mahoning Valley region are beginning to describe it as the “Voltage Valley.”

The Ultium Cells investment will continue to strengthen the automotive industry in Ohio, enable economic resiliency and potential for the local and regional economy, and create a new EV-based cluster that reconfirms Ohio’s leading position in the new wave of global automotive technology transition.

“With this investment, Ohio and its highly capable workforce will play a key role in our journey toward a world with zero emissions. Combining our manufacturing expertise with LG Chem’s leading battery-cell technology will help accelerate our pursuit of an all-electric future. We look forward to collaborating with LG Chem on future cell technologies that will continue to improve the value we deliver to our customers,” said Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, GM.

To learn more, visit JobsOhio.com/automotive.

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