Bipartisan effort seeks to boost Ohio’s electric car market

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — State Senators Michael Rulli and Sean O’Brien, one a Republican, the other a Democrat, both from the Mahoning Valley, are behind a bill which offers several incentives for purchasing or leasing an electric vehicle. ​

The bill knocks $500 of the price of an electric vehicle for everyday consumers looking to bring home a new car. They can take advantage of this once per year.​

The bill would also take $1,000 off the price for commercial fleet vehicle purchases, up to 10 times per year. In addition, charging stations will see a cost reduction of $1,500 per station with no limit to the amount that can be purchased.

The idea is to get people using electric cars in Ohio for several reasons.​

In addition to zero-emission cars being better for the environment, a boost to the electric car market could keep Ohioans employed and potentially bring more work to the state.

Recently, General Motors announced it was partnering with a chemical company to make batteries for electric cars here in Ohio, and Lordstown Motors bought the old GM plant and is using it to build an electric commercial pickup truck called the Endurance.​

The trucks are expected to be ready by the end of 2020, right when competition from major companies could be rolling their electric pickups off of assembly lines.​

As an example, the legislation would give Ohio companies a reason to buy trucks manufactured at Lordstown Motors at a lower price point for the company’s fleet vehicles.​

But to make sure that lines up with Lordstown’s expected release date, the bill would have to pass sometime next spring, before lawmakers go on break for the summer.​

Steve Burns, the CEO of Lordstown Motors, supports the bill.​

“If you’re going to step out and buy an electric vehicle, it certainly helps to know, from the governor down, that the state is encouraging this,” he said.

Even if they can’t line things up, getting people buying electric vehicles will be a signal to companies that Ohio takes this technology seriously and wants to be a part of the future, according to the bill’s sponsors.​

The sponsors believe a higher demand for the product could translate into more vehicles and parts being manufactured in the state. ​

Rulli and O’Brien want Ohio to be one of the top three states for electric vehicle sales and leases. Currently, Ohio is somewhere near the bottom, in the second half of the list.​

Many of the top 10 states on the list have taken steps to become a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) state.

Experts said it is unlikely Ohio would quickly transition to adopting such a standard, and would more likely have to first become a Low Emission Vehicle state.​

Rulli and O’Brien said they are looking at all things that could help move Ohio up that list and are open to ideas from anyone at the Statehouse.​

Ultimately, bringing more jobs making electric vehicles and their parts acts as a stabilizer for employees and the economy, all banking on electric vehicles being where the world is headed.

According to industry experts, electric is the future and other countries around the world are already moving toward it.

​O’Brien wants to make Ohio the capital of that automotive future, but that’s only going to happen if Ohioans buy in and show they want it, too.​

“We believe that by doing this, this will help push Ohio forward in the electric vehicle market and make our state one of the leading states in the production of these vehicles,” he said.

​Right now, Rulli and O’Brien are trying to get this bill rolling at the statehouse, coming together to push the bill like it has a dead battery and they’re popping the clutch. ​

State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) has offered to sponsor a bill in the Ohio House of Representatives as a companion to their legislation if they so desire.

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