“Proactive” and “eager” are not words most would likely use to describe Honda’s investments and general attitude in electric vehicles up to this point. The company offers a city car in Europe that’s cute but not a stellar value, and here in North America it’s had to rely on General Motors to give it something to bring to the table after the Clarity’s demise — and we won’t even see that something for another two years. So the brand’s announcement today that it’s planning to pour $3.5 billion into a 2,200-employee battery plant in Fayette County, Ohio comes as big news, even if it’s a bit tardy.
This follows on the heels of another announcement Honda made in August, that it was entering into a battery-making partnership with LG Energy Solution. $3.5 billion is what both companies have agreed to spend as part of the joint venture, but that figure could rise to $4.4 billion, per The Columbus Dispatch. This grand plan for Ohio also involves sprucing up Honda’s three existing facilities in the state, to the tune of another $700 million and 327 additional workers. They’ll all collaborate to transform the automaker’s U.S. repertoire in the second half of this decade:
Workers in Anna, Ohio, will make the battery case that will be combined with the battery modules from the battery plant on a line at Marysville. The complete battery unit will be installed in electric vehicles by workers in Marysville and East Liberty, Ohio.
“This event will set the course to chart the development of our electrified future for the next 40 years and beyond,’’ [executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co. Bob] Nelson said.
Nelson said financial incentives with the state are being negotiated.
Honda isn’t ready to announce how many electric vehicles will be made in the state, Nelson said.
Honda and LG are hoping to break ground in Fayette County in early 2023 and complete the site by the end of 2024. But even then, manufacturing pouch lithium-ion batteries won’t start until the end of 2025, and EVs bearing Honda and Acura badges built atop the company’s own platform won’t begin rolling out of Ohio until 2026.
There is a long, long way to go then, and the Ultium-based Prologue and Acura’s yet-unnamed counterpart are tasked with tiding Americans over in the interim. Honda hasn’t confirmed where both SUVs will be built, but rumors point to GM’s Ramos Arizpe, Mexico facility — denying both the $7,500 tax credit under the Inflation Reduction Act, which requires U.S. assembly for qualification. That’s an issue the 2026 EVs won’t face, but again, 2026 isn’t exactly tomorrow. Fortunately, Honda doesn’t appear to be in much of a rush.