Tyler Joswick / Asst. photo editor
Venturi Automobiles is coming to Ohio State and creating about 70 jobs for the local workforce.
Venturi Automobiles President Gildo Pastor came to campus last week to announce the company’s plans to establish Venturi North America at OSU. The company will work with OSU’s Center for Automotive Research to develop and build electric vehicles.
Venturi started as a race car manufacturer in France in 1984 before Pastor shifted its focus to electric vehicles in 2001. Venturi is the largest active electric vehicle production line in the world, according to a Jan. 13 OSU College of Engineering press release.
“I was on the headline of the magazines, especially the sports car magazines, saying, ‘This man is completely crazy,'” Pastor said.
Pastor said the decision to begin Venturi North America in Columbus began about a year ago and OSU was ready right away and made sure they had “all the green lights” to move here.
“It came out to be a fantastic partnership,” Pastor said. “We wanted to grow into a company, and that is what’s happening now.”
Venturi partnered with OSU on the Buckeye Bullet land-speed racing team, a student-run team based out of OSU’s Center for Automotive Research, CAR, that set a world speed record for a battery-powered vehicle. This partnership was a main point that led to Pastor’s decision to base Venturi North America in Columbus.
Venturi North America plans to employ about 70 people within the next two years.
Pastor said he plans to continue work with CAR and the students.
“It’s really important to us to have the speed-racing program to be even more invested in that program,” he said. “We’ve met a lot of experienced students through this speed-racing program that are going to be looking for jobs and we know some of them already and it’s very interesting for us to have them in our team.”
Pastor said he doesn’t think there is an equivalent of OSU’s automotive research center in the U.S.
Giorgio Rizzoni, the director of CAR at OSU, said the relationship can be beneficial to both parties.
“As they continue to form their business plan, they will be looking to CAR as a partner,” Rizzoni said. “They will be able to rely on the expertise we already have, and we believe we will seriously be able to help Venturi grow as a company.”
Rizzoni also said Venturi will help bring business to CAR.
The company will be headquartered out of TechColumbus, an organization promoting technology-driven companies and economic growth, located on Kinnear Road. Manufacturing will take place at the Science and Technology Campus Corporation research park on OSU’s West Campus. Pastor said they are two years from producing vehicles in Columbus.
“The goal is to engineer in the U.S. and produce them here,” Pastor said. “They need to be specially designed and engineered for the U.S. market.”
Venturi manufactures 200 cars per month in Europe and specializes in creating electric delivery vehicles. Chief executive officer of Venturi North America John Pohill said Friday that the Columbus division will begin with the same focus.
The company could start with a motor assembly facility, then shift to building smaller delivery vans and commercial vehicles for the public, Pastor said.
Pohill said citizens of Columbus should be excited about Venturi’s plan to come to the city.
“We intend to employ from the city of Columbus,” Pohill said. “And I think there will be other small businesses that spin off of this, and there is a lot of potential for a lot of different things to happen.”
Pohill said Venturi’s electric vehicles will run an average of 150 miles on one charge and the price of cars depends heavily on what kind of battery the company uses.
They are working “very, very hard to keep the price very, very low,” Pohill said.
Pohill and Pastor came to campus Friday. Earlier last week, Venturi debuted their new model, Venturi America, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
OSU President E. Gordon Gee visited Detroit with Gov. John Kasich Wednesday.
“Dr. Gee and Gov. Kasich did stop by the auto show and talk with Venturi staff, but it was not the primary purpose of the trip,” said university spokesman Jim Lynch in an e-mail.