Electric vehicle manufacturing is Illinois’ future if Pritzker helps grow it

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That’s in part because Illinois has a lot to offer a company that’s betting on a post-combustion-engine future. The state’s most notable entry in this category is Rivian, which is bringing electric pickup trucks and SUVs to market later this year and is also busy building a fleet of 100,000 electric-powered delivery trucks to Amazon, one of its principal financial backers, at its factory in Bloomington-Normal. In March, New York-based hydrogen vehicle maker Hyzon Motors said it will begin producing fuel-cell components in Bolingbrook later this year at what promises to be the largest plant of its kind in the U.S.

A slew of other companies and organizations are helping to raise Illinois’ profile in the automotive business of the future. One is Here Technologies, the digital mapping company that used to be known as Navteq, which is developing GPS-enabled navigation devices with partners like BMW to make driverless cars a reality soon. Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s engineering school, meanwhile, are working together on fuel cell development. On the logistics front, DHL in 2019 opened an innovation center here—one of just three worldwide—to explore how artificial intelligence can reshape the business of moving goods around. These relatively recent entrants to the scene—along with more traditional players like Ford’s Torrence Avenue production campus, Stellantis’ Jeep production plant near Rockford, Navistar’s test center and engine plant in Melrose Park, and Urbana-based automotive parts maker Flex-N-Gate—are burnishing Illinois’ reputation as a place with the talent and know-how to build the next generation of transportation technology.

And there’s hope that, if COVID-19 begins to sink on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s priority list, he will be able to deliver on one of the attributes that made him an attractive candidate for the office he now holds: his deep business experience and the connections that he could leverage in Illinois’ favor. Illinois has long needed a salesman-in-chief—a role we all hoped Bruce Rauner could perform while in office, though he had a habit of bad-talking the state’s business climate in a way that many feared was a turnoff to potential investors.

Not that he didn’t have reason to worry about the business climate. A survey of 383 CEOs reported May 5 confirms what we already know: Illinois is considered one of the worst states to do business, coming in at No. 48. Executives rapped the state for tax policy and regulatory climate. If we were taking the survey, we would add that the governor could do much to improve the business climate here if he would quit sidestepping Illinois’ pension troubles by calling on his allies in the labor movement to come to the table and fix what’s broken.

If he could accomplish this, perhaps Illinois would have reason to celebrate even more wins like the Lion Electric investment.

via Crain’s Chicago Business https://ift.tt/1mywUHL

May 7, 2021 at 05:56PM

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