OTTAWA — Transportation technology startup Endera hosted Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) on Thursday as the company converts the former Metro Titan bus factory in Ottawa into a manufacturing hub for all-electric bus and commercial vehicles.
The Southern California-based company acquired Metro Titan, formerly known as Titan Bus, in April to start making its all-electric Type A school buses, shuttle buses and paratransit vehicles in Ottawa.
The company also specializes in charging stations and software solutions for electric vehicles in an effort to lower the cost of electric vehicle ownership.
The Ottawa campus had “massive expansion potential,” said John Walsh, founder and chief executive officer of Endera.
The facility was already equipped with the infrastructure needed to “vertically integrate” and “drive the price down of electric vehicles to something that’s economically affordable and cheaper than gas vehicles,” Walsh said. “If you don’t have a sustainable alternative, it’s going to be difficult to have widespread adoption.”
Today, Endera employs 25 workers at the Ottawa plant, where it still produces some gas-powered vehicles. But the company plans to hire another 150 or so workers in the next few years as it scales up production.
The company’s presence in Ohio comes amid a global transition in the automotive industry to produce more electric vehicles. In the next five years alone, companies are expected to invest $330 billion in batteries and electric vehicles globally, according to CNBC.
“It’s important for us as policymakers to be mindful of that and try to foster that transition, as opposed to being caught behind the Eight-ball when that transition occurs,” McColley said. “We’re open-minded and happy to have those conversations.”
McColley’s visit prompted conversations about the labor shortage, which Ohio’s TechCred program is trying to solve through incumbent worker training by reimbursing companies and workers who earn certain industry credentials or micro-degrees.
But McColley said the supply chain is more complicated to resolve and is partially the result of extended unemployment benefits offered throughout the pandemic. “We’ve been paying people not to work for quite some time,” he said. “We’re reaping what we’ve sown at this point.”