GM's Lordstown Plant Might Be Saved By EV Truck Maker

Is a tie-up with Workhorse GM’s answer to Ford-Rivian?

After late-morning tweets yesterday from President Trump praising General Motors CEO Mary Barra, the automaker announced it is "in discussions" to sell its Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant to fledgling electric pickup-truck maker Workhorse and "an affiliated, newly formed entity." While that newly formed entity is affiliated with Cincinnati-based Workhorse, the nature of the potential deal leaves open the possibility that GM could become a future investor.

GM announced last November that the Lordstown plant was "unallocated" following discontinuation of the Chevrolet Cruze. The plant opened in 1966 and built full-size Chevys and early Pontiac Firebirds, but probably is best-known as the home of the Chevy Vega, which launched in the 1971 model year. The automaker began discussions with Workhorse at the beginning of 2019, a spokesperson said, as GM's U.S. plant downsizing plans were drawing the ire of the president.

Will GM become an investor in Workhorse's "affiliated, newly formed entity?" The company spokesperson declined to say. Like virtually every battery-electric-vehicle manufacturer, Workhorse has yet to post a profit, although it also makes delivery drones and battery-electric aircraft, according to workhorse.com.

More recently, GM was reported to be considering an investment in Plymouth, Michigan-based Rivian, which also landed $750 million from an investment group led by online retail giant Amazon. GM soon dropped out of discussions with Rivian, and Ford Motor Company instead announced its own, $500 million investment in the decade-old startup, which plans to market its own EV pickup truck and sport-utility vehicle by 2021. The Ford and Amazon investments in Rivian suggest the possibility of a Transit-style EV van with a built-in customer base as a package delivery vehicle.

Barra said last week in GM's quarterly earnings conference call that her company is developing a battery-electric pickup truck, countering Ford's news of its investment in Rivian.

No word yet how many hourly workers Workhorse plans to have at Lordstown. GM employed about 1,400 such workers just before it shuttered the plant earlier this year, and also announced Wednesday that it would create about 450 new manufacturing jobs at its Ohio plants in Toledo, Moraine, and Parma.

 

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