President Donald Trump recently announced via Twitter that General Motors (GM) is set to create 450 new jobs in Ohio, all thanks to a $700 million investment. The company also has plans to sell a huge Lordstown auto assembly facility, which closed down this past March. NBC News advised that the plant has been operating for over five decades, producing a reported 16 million vehicles over the years. An electric vehicle (EV) startup from Cincinnati known as Workhorse Group is set to buy the location to build electric-run pickups, subject to a “UAW agreement”, as per Trump’s tweet.
Trump relayed that he’d be “working” with GM to get this rolled out, also thanking state lawmakers, as well as GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra.
The Lordstown factory has been closed for months now, not producing vehicles since it shut down in March; however, according to Dan Flores, GM spokesperson, the plant, 6.2 million in square feet, was to sit in a “state of readiness” until it was needed. The proposed purchase needs to be negotiated with the United Auto Workers Union (UAW), an organization that still represents the currently-shutdown plant.
UAW’s VP, Terry Dittes, relayed in a statement that the organization remains clear in its position after GM’s announcement; that is, the auto company needs to assign a product to the Lordstown plant, and keep it operating. Dittes also noted that the UAW will keep its effort to protect its members contractual rights across locations.
Workhorse becomes an official minority partner when it comes to this purchase, working hand-in-hand with a new entity formed by Steve Burns, the company’s founder. Together, with all parties involved, due diligence needs to be completed.
The largest among Detroit-based auto manufacturers, GM has removed over 14,000 jobs in both the United States and Canada since last November. This is part of a bigger plan that will also see two component plants and three assembly factories across North America close by the end of this year.
Barra had stated in February that these closures were to ensure the company stay agile and lean; trimming back bloated areas to help fund an aggressive push towards EVs and mobility services like autonomous ride-sharing initiatives.
Barra had also outlined in the past that a road to an EV future will start with the release of their all-new battery-electric Cadillac SUV, set to hit sometime between late 2020 to early 2021.
While the exact timeframe around the Lordstown sale completion was not given, Burn did note in a statement sent jointly with GM that the first vehicle to be built is a commercial electric truck, mixing the Lordstown manufacturing expertise with Workhorse’s technology.