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Electric vehicle companies considering engineering hub in the Valley

Electric vehicle companies considering engineering hub in the Valley

CEO working with groups on site selection; Lordstown group sticks to ambitious timetable

WARREN — Lordstown Motors Corp.’s CEO Steve Burns is sticking to an ambitious timeline to launch the company’s battery-powered electric pickup truck in late 2020 should the tech startup buy the idled General Motors assembly plant.

And if he’s successful, Burns said expect to see prototypes of the yet-to-be-named pickup on local roads by mid-June 2020. There’s also talk of testing near Marysville at the Transportation Research Center.

Meanwhile, Hyperion Motors CEO and Warren G. Harding High School graduate Angelo Kafantaris, who will locate its automotive division in the Mahoning Valley, said the California-based company is working with local economic development groups on site selection on what could eventually become an engineering hub.

The company has already built two prototypes on the automotive side and two prototypes on the fueling side, he said.

Burns and Kafantaris were joined by Tiara Thurston, a regional manager with automotive and energy company Tesla, at Packard Music Hall on Tuesday for a group discussion on electric vehicles to wrap up the two-day Energy Storage Building Efficiency Conference.

It was sponsored by the former Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center in downtown Warren. Officials announced at the event that TBEIC is being rebranded as Brite Energy Innovators.

Burns admitted bringing an automobile to market is a lofty goal. He said complex negotiations with GM to buy the 6.2 million-square-foot facility in Lordstown are compounded by GM / United Auto Workers contract negotiations, but he remains confident the deal with Lordstown Motors will happen.

“We remain at the ready to do it, and we fully expect to,” Burns said. “That is a marvelous building and everything inside is intact, and we think that is going to give us a big leg up.”

Leaks from contract talks in Detroit indicate GM has proposed opening an electric vehicle battery plant in Lordstown, where the company idled the plant in March. The new factory would be in addition to Lordstown Motors.

“There is no discussion where they would put our plant. I think they might put it in the town of Lordstown, but we are not aware of it going into our plant,” Burns said. “We want to put our own cell manufacturing in our plant, our own motor company. … We want to cover the ecosphere. We’re trying to make this a hub of electric, at least trucks, but maybe just electric vehicles.”

He said drawings of the truck could be released by the end of the year. Also planned is a contest to name the new truck, he said.

Lordstown Motors affiliate Workhorse Group Inc. in Cincinnati, which would be a minority investor in the startup, is among the four remaining companies seeking to land a multibillion contract with the U.S. Postal Service for electric delivery vans.

Landing it might translate into the vans being produced in Lordstown. “If Workhorse wins it, we’d like to build it for them if we have the Lordstown plant,” said Burns, Workhorse founder and former CEO.

Kafantaris said Hyperion is working with JobsOhio, the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber and Team NEO to “find the best location” in Trumbull or Mahoning counties for research and development. Already the company has signed on with Brite to start the process to locate here.

Hyperion is an energy storage, creation and propulsion company. Kafantaris anticipates about five employees of Hyperion to be at Brite. Another 15 or so would work at the research and development location.

Phase two is manufacturing of the hydrogen-powered electric SUV. He wants to have the location selected by the end of 2020.

Staff photo / Ron Selak Jr. Dan Moulthrop with the City Club of the Mahoning Valley and the City Club of Cleveland, left, leads a panel discussion about electric vehicles Tuesday at Packard Music Hall. With him, from left, are Tiara Thurston of Tesla; Angelo Kafantaris, CEO of Hyperion Motors and Warren G. Harding High School graduate; and Steve Burns, CEO of Lordstown Motors Corp.

 

Source:  Warren Tribune-Chronicle

By:  Sep 25, 2019
Ron Selak Jr.
Reporter
rselak@tribtoday.com

LINK:  https://www.tribtoday.com/news/local-news/2019/09/electric-vehicle-companies-considering-engineering-hub-in-the-valley/?utm_source=morning-roundup&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20190925&utm_content=article12-headli

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