Crain’s Detroit Business
Oct. 21, 2022
Our Next Energy CEO Mujeeb Ijaz said Thursday his new EV battery plant in metro Detroit would be the seed for a “multitude of factories,” while Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reaffirmed her stance that Michigan must boost incentives to compete aggressively for such investments.
Local development and job creation were the key themes of a “ribbon cutting” event at ONE’s new 114,000-square-foot office and engineering center at 45145 W. 12 Mile Road in Novi.
The EV battery startup’s new global HQ and planned $1.6 billion factory and 2,112 jobs in Van Buren Township is a major economic development win for officials who have hoisted the trophy high this week. Whitmer’s tour Thursday followed U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit Wednesday as Democrats tout federal investment in U.S. EV technology development as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.
“It’s a homegrown manufacturing company, and growing their footprint in Michigan will continue to boost our economy and make a real difference as we want to improve the quality of people’s lives,” Whitmer said during the event, which featured U.S. Democratic Reps. Haley Stevens and Debbie Dingell, in addition to other dignitaries.
Fueled by a noteworthy investor base, and $327 million in state incentives, ONE plans to launch mass production of its lithium iron phosphate batteries at the new 659,589-square-foot plant by 2024. The 20 GWh plant is expected to produce 200,000 units per year by 2027.
Ijaz said Thursday that he committed to making the first prototype cell at the factory by the end of next year. Within a year after that, he said, programs with all seven of its current customers would be launched. The company has not disclosed its customers in Michigan.
“There’s no better place for us to continue that legacy of transformation … and not just at our first factory, but we believe, in a multitude of factories that are to come,” Ijaz said.
ONE had explored a dozen different sites for the plant but landed on Michigan because of its talent base and automotive legacy, Ijaz said.
The deal to secure the plant in Michigan came together at the Mackinac Policy Conference last spring, Whitmer said.
“We were talking about what their vision was, what their plan was, the incredible technology they’ve created here,” Whitmer told reporters after the event Thursday. “There’s no question, we want them to stay in Michigan, so let’s do what it takes, roll up our sleeves, sharpen our pencils, work across the aisle with the Legislature to make sure we had the tools to ensure their success here.”
The major tool was the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve, a bipartisan fund created early this year to attract big business deals to the state. Asked if she would be seeking to replenish the fund after commitments to ONE and the Gotion Inc. project near Big Rapids, Whitmer answered, “absolutely.”
“We’ve got to compete,” Whitmer said. “This is a critical component in our ability to build future industry here to secure our economy for future generations. If you’re not aggressive today, you may never recover.”