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A surge of electric powered vehicles is expected to come to new car lots in Ohio in next few years

A "Lordstown Endurance" electric truck is displayed outside of the Ohio Statehouse in September 2020.
Daniel Konik
/
Statehouse News Bureau
A "Lordstown Endurance" electric truck is displayed outside of the Ohio Statehouse in September 2020.

A new law in California will ban the sale of new cars with gas-powered engines beginning in 2035. Other states are thinking about enacting similar legislation. Ohio lawmakers are not looking at passing a law like that here, but some of them think electric vehicles (EV) will be much more common in the Buckeye State by then.

Zach Doran, president of the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association (OADA), said EVs make up about 2% of the new cars on lots here in the state of Ohio right now. But he expects that number will increase significantly in the future.

"They are certainly going to grow in popularity. You are now starting to see virtually every manufacturer bringing them to market," Doran said.

State Sen. Mike Rulli (R-Salem) said that includes some manufacturers in his district in the Mahoning Valley, which he said some are now nicknaming the "Voltage Valley" because of the new industry's prevalence there. Rulli said he and Democratic Sen. Sean O'Brien (D-Bazetta) have been working together to promote EV technology. And Rulli said he was "blown away" when they recently had the opportunity to test drive an EV vehicle similar to the ones now being produced in Ohio.

"They move like a zero turn lawn mower. Their acceleration was extraordinary and unlike something I've ever experienced before. The braking was incredible," O'Brien said.

Rulli has been a cheerleader of the new EV cars since that time and has sponsored several pieces of legislation to promote and expand the EV industry in Ohio. Still, he said he's not in favor of following California's lead in mandating EV vehicles in favor of gas-powered engines.

"I am not at all supportive in shutting down combustible engines. I think that is a huge mistake," Rulli said.

Rulli said he understands many of his Republican colleagues in the Ohio Legislature have been skeptical of EVs. But he said he thinks the popularity of them will increase organically.

Ohio will receive more than $100 million over the next five years to install high speed electric vehicle charging units within every 30 miles along roadways throughout the state. Rulli said getting more infrastructure for EV's in place will help.

He also said the Ford 150 Lightning, a popular pickup truck that's now being rolled out with electric engines, will be a "game changer" that will change minds of people who are skeptical of EV's. Rulli explained those trucks will allow people to exceed 300 miles on one charge and will have the utility that truck owners want. They'll also come with a hefty price tag - in excess of $60,000, but Rulli said that could come down as more electric vehicles become available.

Doran said dealers are excited about the EVs coming to market and said they are growing in popularity. As the infrastructure for them increases, and consumers start to realize the vehicles are actually high performance, Doran said the market will grow. And he said more are starting to come online right now, as Ohio's auto dealers continue to deal with supply chain issues that make it harder to get new cars to put on their lots.

"Our dealers across the state would welcome anything on their lots right now," Doran said.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.