Electric Truck Start-Up Buys Shuttered GM Lordstown Assembly Plant

Lordstown plant
The former home of GM's Chevy Cruze will soon be the home of electric truck start-up Lordstown Motors. [ideastream]
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Update: Nov. 8, 2019; 1:22 p.m.

Newly formed Lordstown Motors has acquired the former General Motors Lordstown plant, according to statements from both companies Thursday.

Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.

“One of the largest and most productive auto manufacturing plants of all time, the Lordstown Complex will serve as our headquarters, with our mission being to create the leading electric vehicle epicenter in the region,” Lordstown Motors said Thursday afternoon on its freshly updated website, complete with concept-car images of its truck, dubbed Endurance. “This plant — combined with the legendary capability of the people who work there—is where we will build the work vehicles of the future.”

Electric trucks could be rolling off the line again in the Mahoning Valley as soon as “the second half of 2020,” according to the Lordstown Motors site.

GM confirmed the agreement in a brief statement on its website.

“GM is committed to future investment and job growth in Ohio and we believe LMC’s plan to launch the Endurance electric pickup has the potential to create a significant number of jobs and help the Lordstown area grow into a manufacturing hub for electrification.”

United Auto Workers Local 1112 President Tim O’Hara says there’s been discussion to hire a few hundred union members from the former GM operation at the new Lordstown Motors plant. They could also be paid similar wages to what GM offers, he said.

“That’s taxpayers out of the community, that’s people that give to charities, that’s kids that had to leave the school system,” O’Hara says. “The trickle-down effect is going to continue.”

He says there are two sides to the issue: the new plant won’t make up for jobs lost but it could offer opportunities for more development.

“From the jobs aspect for Mahoning Valley, it’s going to be a good thing,” O’Hara says. “Obviously, it’s better that the plant is going to be functioning at some capacity rather than just sitting there idle, or even torn down.”

A deal between GM and an electric vehicle company has been a matter of speculation for months, kicked off by President Donald Trump with a tweet in May and reignited late last month with the strike-ending agreement between GM and the UAW sealing the fate of the idled 6.2 million square foot factory.  

GM announced it would “unallocate” the facility, along with two other assembly plants around the country last November. Employing as many as 5,000 at its peak, workers held out hope jobs would stay in Lordstown even as production ended in March. More than 1,400 workers have since accepted transfers to other GM locations.

“The sale of the Lordstown plant is an important step for future development in the community,” said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in a written statement. “We and our partners can now move to the next phase of attracting new automotive manufacturing jobs to the Mahoning Valley.”

The new electric truck startup was created by some of the principals of Cincinnati-based Workhorse Group Inc., including Steve Burns, formerly of Workhorse and now the CEO of Lordstown Motors.

Also on Thursday, Workhorse announced a three-year intellectual property licensing agreement with Lordstown Motors. Workhorse will get a 10 percent stake in Lordstown Motors’ equity, a licensing fee of 1 percent of the sales price each of the first 200,000 trucks the new company sells and a 4 percent commission on the sale of the first 6,000 pre-ordered vehicles.

ideastream's Taylor Haggerty contributed to this report.

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