News Story

EV battery maker lays off quarter of staff

Our Next Energy ‘on track’ to build facility after $237M welfare package

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was all smiles at Our Next Energy’s ribbon-cutting event in October 2022. After state officials arranged $237 million in corporate welfare, the $1.6 billion project broke ground in Wayne County, with promises to hire 2,112 workers. ONE, an electric vehicle battery maker aiming to solve the problem of range limitation that has troubled EV engineers since the days of Thomas Edison, would position Michigan as a leader in the next generation of the auto industry, Whitmer claimed.

Thirteen months later, ONE is laying off one-quarter of its staff, firing 128 of its 512 employees. The Detroit News reports that 82 of the jobs cut are in Michigan. The layoffs come, the company said, “in response to market conditions and to focus on core priorities.”

The company explained the firings as necessary as part of its transition from research and development to production, and it added that the move would not compromise the plant in Van Buren Township.

“ONE expects the plant to be operating at full capacity, building enough cells to assemble the equivalent of 200,000 EV battery packs annually, by the end of 2027,” Kalea Hall reports.

State officials insist that there is no cause for concern, that plans for the factory are unchanged, and that ONE remains on track.

When the project was announced last year, the company aligned itself with Whitmer’s energy policy.

“A significant factor in ONE’s decision to build its very first Gigafactory here in Michigan was in part due to the Governor’s MI Healthy Climate Plan, which outlines a path to carbon neutrality by 2050 and a specific focus on supporting increased electric vehicle infrastructure access and affordability,” read the state’s press release.

The MI Healthy Climate Plan says Michigan should build the infrastructure for 2 million electric vehicles by 2030.

The company’s alignment with Whitmer doesn’t end there.

On Oct. 4, 2022, ONE CEO Mujeeb Ijaz donated $6,150 to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reelection campaign, records show. The very next day, the state announced the $237 million incentive package.

Ijaz donated a total of $7,150 to Whitmer during that election cycle, when she secured a second term as governor.

Ijaz’s wife donated an identical $7,150 to Whitmer during the 2022 cycle.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.