General Motors is just one of many automakers that has fallen on hard times in recent years. With employee lay-offs and plants closing all over the country, vehicle production in America seems to be a dying industry. But in the midst of the heartache behind an Ohio GM plant closure, there may be a ray of hope for the American automobile industry.
That ray of hope, however, is coming from an unexpected place. Here’s who plans on turning GM’s fallen plant into a booming success.
GM sells its Lordstown plant to up-and-coming competition
The General Motors’ Lordstown Assembly plant in Ohio was down to only 1,400 workers on a single shift when the company announced last year that it would be ending production there, according to Auto Blog.
But the 6.2 million-square-foot facility has been shut down since, and has been a “key issue in the UAW’s decision to go on strike against GM.” As more automakers struggle to keep factories open and workers employed, hope for the Lordstown, Ohio plant and its unemployed workers has emerged.
In early November, GM sold the unused Lordstown production plant for an undisclosed amount to a fairly-unknown purchaser. The possible-savior of the automobile plant is a startup investment group led by CEO Steve Burns, Lordstown Motors Corporation.
And if you’ve never heard of this auto group, you’re not the only one. According to The Verge, Lordstown Motors “is a new company that was specifically set up to buy the Lordstown plant.” And building a brand new, startup American automaking company from the ground up has simply never happened before.
The new Lordstown plant will only employ a fraction of the number of employees it did under GM’s ownership, but expectations for a unionized workforce are strong.
Production of its future lineup is expected to start late in the 2020 year. But GM isn’t bitter about the deal, as the automaker is already planning on opening a plant in the area that would focus on building electric battery cells, creating roughly 1,000 jobs. And after its own setbacks, GM welcomes the potential Lordstown Motors will create in the vehicle electrification industry.
The new Lordstown plant: plans for the future
Once the doors of the new plant open, Lordstown Motors plans to employ 450 production jobs. This number is significantly less than the 4,500 employees GM employed while it was at its best.
Though CEO Burns has not reached out to the UAW (United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Workers of America), he entirely expects the new Lordstown workforce to be unionized. According to the Detroit Free Press, Lordstown Motors plans on using the experience and history of the plant for its own success, “utilizing experienced workers who helped produce millions of vehicles in this very same plant.”
Lordstown Motors Corp. plans to build a new, electric vehicle at its newly-bought plant in Lordstown. But it will need its partner, the Workhorse Group, in order to do it. The Workhorse Group owns 10% of the investment group and is currently working to raise additional capital for its Lordstown plant plans.
Based in Cincinnati, Workhorse works with electric-vehicle tech, creating electric delivery vans, drones, and even fleet-monitoring telematics tools. Workhorse Group is also currently in the running for winning a contract with the U.S. Postal Service to built its next generation of mail delivery trucks.
The next vehicle to step off Lordstown’s production line
Lordstown Motors, alongside Workhorse Group, plans to build the Endurance electric hybrid at the newly-bought Lordstown plant. Formerly known as the W-15 prototype, the Endurance is an all-electric pickup truck that is mainly aimed and marketed at fleet customers.
Though not much is known about this possibly groundbreaking EV truck, the Endurance is said to be based on a four-wheel drive, hub system that offers lower maintenance costs and repairs.
Not only will it look as futuristic as you’d imagine, but the Endurance will also be extremely functional, with an onboard power source that allows you to run power tools and other important accessories through the battery of the truck. According to CNN Business, the Endurance pickup is expected to be more affordable than gasoline- or diesel-powered trucks in the same segment.