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Ohio’s rise as an automobile innovation hub shifts up a gear

Ohio has seen an injection in automotive related technology.

The future belongs to electric cars as global warming devastates the planet Earth. — Photo: © Digital Journal
The future belongs to electric cars as global warming devastates the planet Earth. — Photo: © Digital Journal

Paris-based Forsee Power has indicated it is establishing its North American headquarters and gigafactory in Columbus, Ohio. This is a further transformative step with Central Ohio’s automotive industry.

Central Ohio is home to Honda’s North American manufacturing headquarters and the area is a recipient of the USDOT Smart City Challenge. These are signs of the region being pivotal for mobility innovation in the U.S. (from smart city technology to the rise of battery production with Forsee Power’s investment and relocation).

A different form of innovation is with the hydrogen fuel cell company Hyperion, which has invested $297 million to convert a former printing plant into a fuel cell factory and announced its headquarters’ return to Columbus after a temporary relocation to California.

Hyperion CEO Angelo Kafantaris has told Digital Journal about the region’s attractiveness for electrical vehicle expansion, stating: “Columbus had the perfect blend — because it’s so diverse, from the tech resources to the manufacturing base. There was no decision other than Columbus that could be made after doing our research.”

Kafantarisexpands on the reason why innovative mobility companies are succeeding in Central Ohio.

Prime Intermodal Connectivity to the North American Market

According to Kafantaris: “With nearly 650,000 cars produced in the Columbus Region each year, market access is a top priority for local automakers. Located at the geographic center of the U.S. auto industry, companies in the Columbus Region can reach 60 percent of the U.S./Canadian population (151 million consumers) within one-day’s drive. Some of the Columbus Region’s top assets include the North American International Freight Center (a top 10 Foreign Trade Zone) and Rickenbacker Airport, the largest cargo-dedicated airport in North America. For automakers, suppliers and mobility innovators, the Columbus Region offers a strong supply chain and optimal market access.”

Education Institutions Produce Trained and Talented Workers

Kafantaris  explains: “The Ohio State University – the nation’s third largest – houses the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), the nation’s preeminent research in sustainable mobility. CAR’s research spans advanced engine development, alternative fuels for reduced fuel consumption and advanced battery technology, and it’s teams have even set land speed records for electric land speed vehicles testing on the Bonneville salt flats. The Columbus Region is also home to the 4,500-acre Transportation Research Center (TRC), the most comprehensive independent vehicle testing facility and proving grounds in the United States, providing a conveniently-located proving ground for the next generation of vehicles.”

A Legacy of Automotive Excellence

Here Kafantaris  points out: “Ohio is home to the 2nd largest automotive workforce in the U.S. and remains a top choice for companies building, testing and shipping vehicles in North America. In March, Honda opened the world’s most advanced wind tunnel at the TRC to research how to increase the range and performance of the company’s future full-electric vehicles, and in April it announced the 30-model electric vehicle lineup that it plans to bring to market by 2030. Prior to the pandemic, Alcorta Forging Group, a 100-year-old Spanish automotive supplier, established its first U.S. manufacturing operations and regional headquarters in the Columbus Region; and Toyoda Gosei, a Toyota Group company and leading global manufacturer of rubber and plastic automotive parts, announced plans to open a new technical center in the Region.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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