EV Conference Focuses on NE Ohio Supply Chain – Business Journal Daily

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The electric vehicle revolution is underway, and businesses in northeast Ohio are eager to assess their place in this nascent, but rapidly accelerating industry.

Failure to do so could mean missing out on transformational business opportunities as the regional economy begins to change.

That’s largely the consensus of speakers and panelists who shared their insights April 13 at the Northeast Ohio Manufacturing for Electric Vehicles conference. About 350 executives and representatives from manufacturers, suppliers, service providers, information technology companies, development agencies and universities attended the event, which was held at the Kent State University.

“We thought it would be beneficial for the region to host an event that would help whet people’s appetite and interest,” said Jay Foran, senior vice president, industry and innovation, Team NEO, one of the conference partners.

At stake is a piece of the planned $400 billion electric vehicle supply chain nationwide. Officials are confident that this region – rooted in traditional manufacturing in the automotive and aerospace sectors – is poised to capture a significant share of this market.

The one-day conference was sponsored by Team NEO and JobsOhio; KSU; the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, or Magnet; Brite Energy Innovators; the Youngstown business incubator; Manufacturing work; and JumpStart.

“The forecast is huge in terms of the number of new programs, the number of new vehicles,” said Todd Dubner, partner and head of industrial manufacturing strategy for KPMG’s US office in New York.

Over the past few years, he said, about 20 new electric vehicles have been announced. Another 160 worldwide are expected to be unveiled over the next five years.

“It’s a stark reminder of how competitive and unstable this market will be in the next two years,” he said.

This opens up the market for potential suppliers of electric vehicle engines, for example, as the content of traditional internal combustion engine parts declines over the next few decades, he said.

Opportunities for manufacturers also exist in the development of an electric vehicle charging network, Dubner said. “Some analysts are calling for 2.5 million or more charging stations to support the volume of electric vehicles being discussed,” he said. “This literally means that hundreds of thousands of chargers will be produced every year for the next few years.”

Northeast Ohio is uniquely suited to provide the EV space, since every component used in a vehicle could be produced by a company in the state, said Jonathan Bridges, general manager, automotive, for JobsOhio, the development arm of the state.

“Any commodity that you would want in a vehicle, you can find it in Ohio,” he said.

And, the existing workforce in the state not only includes manufacturing, but could also transition from manufacturing traditional automotive products to future businesses such as electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles.

“What we’re doing is supporting companies that currently supply the industry, helping them make the transition where possible,” Bridges said.

JobsOhio is also talking to global companies involved in the electric vehicle supply chain to find out what it would take to get them into the state, he said.

“We see this industry growing. We see this industry revolving around us,” Bridges said. “If you’re not in that space yet, I advise you to at least think about it.”

Some companies used to supplying traditional original equipment manufacturers have already made the leap into the electric and hybrid vehicle market.

Schaeffler Group, a Cleveland manufacturer that produces bearings and other engine components primarily for the traditional automotive industry, now manufactures parts for the hybrid market, said Jeff Hemphill, chief technical officer.

Many of those motor components that Schaeffler produces today are likely to be phased out as electric motors become standard in the future, he said.

Schaeffler Group predicted several years ago that by 2030, electric vehicles would make up 30% of the automotive market, 40% would be hybrids and 30% would be conventional motor vehicles. That means 70% of those vehicles will have some sort of internal combustion engine by 2030, Hemphill said.

“Hybrids are going to be very important,” agreed Bridges.

However, battery costs have fallen dramatically and capacity has increased since the early 1990s, making electric vehicles more attractive and affordable.

As those costs come down and battery capacity continues to increase, it’s likely that EV adoption will accelerate at a dramatic rate, Bridges noted.

“Don’t be afraid to innovate boldly,” he told the audience.

Electric vehicle sales represent just 4% of sales nationwide, said Edgar Faler, principal analyst at the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Center for Automotive Research. the short term.

As new models are rolled out, additional cell and battery assembly plants are needed to support that growth, Faler said. Suppliers will also be required to support these factories, he said.

“What we find is that a 350-mile radius is logistically important,” he said. “So Ohio is well positioned in that corridor.”

Ohio benefits from the $2.3 billion Ultium battery cell manufacturing plant being built in Lordstown, as well as the prospect of Lordstown Motors Corp.’s partnership. with Foxconn.

“What’s really important is that we’re in the early stages of evolving this ecosystem around electric vehicle assembly plants and battery assembly plants,” Faler said.

Bill Koehler, CEO of Team NEO, said events like the conference at Kent State help engage business leaders and executives with the changing dynamics of Ohio’s economy.

“Electric vehicles and the Youngstown market are a key aspect of that, as is lightweighting and additive manufacturing,” he said.

“The foundation of all of this will be access to talent – ​​we can’t deploy technology if we don’t have engineers. We don’t have enough chemists,” Koehler said. “And that’s why institutions like Youngstown State University and Kent State University are so important.”

Pictured: Among those who spoke at the April 13 all-day conference at Kent State University were Jonathan Bridges, Managing Director, Automotive, for JobsOhio, and Bill Koehler, CEO of Team NEO .

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