General Motors said it has sold its Lordstown Assembly plant in Ohio after idling the plant in March.
GM sold the 6.2 million-square-foot facility to an investment group called Lordstown Motors, which is backed by electric truck maker Workhorse Group.
The amount of the sale is not being disclosed nor is a start-up date for production.
Lordstown Motors said it will build the Endurance electric pickup using components licensed from Workhorse. The Endurance is designed for fleet sales, the company said, and is a lightweight, all-wheel drive vehicle with a low center of gravity.
The Endurance is the latest among many electric pickups in the works. Tesla will debut its electric pickup dubbed “Cybertruck” on Nov. 21. Rivian is building an electric truck due near year-end. And GM has said it will invest $3 billion in Detroit-Hamtramck to build an electric pickup and other electric trucks, possibly reviving the Hummer brand there.
Lordstown Motors said it is committed to the people of Lordstown.
“We will locate our headquarters in the Lordstown plant, and we plan to build the Endurance pickup truck utilizing experienced workers who helped produce millions of vehicles in this very same plant,” said Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns.
He said the people of Lordstown and the plant “are and will be the history and future of the auto industry.”
“The quality and precision of the production robotics and equipment in the Lordstown facility is evident,” said Rich Schmidt, chief production officer at Lordstown Motors and former director of manufacturing for Tesla. “Our team feels this is a factor to help us hit the ground running in building the Endurance pickup truck.”
In a statement, GM said it is “committed to the 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.”
Workhorse also put out a press release late Thursday that outlined details of the intellectual property licensing agreement it has with Lordstown Motors.
Neither company indicated Thursday the number of jobs and when hiring or production would begin. But GM has said the business would create about 450 jobs.
Workhorse CEO Duane Hughes said it appreciated “GM’s acceptance of our combined proposal and believe it represents the best opportunity to keep production in Lordstown. We look forward to working together in the future as we finalize this transaction and explore additional production possibilities at the plant.”
Lordstown Motor’s Burns said: “We, along with Workhorse, remain dedicated to keeping vehicle production in Lordstown. Now, with LMC’s acquiring of the Lordstown, Ohio, factory, it is time to begin executing on our plan.”
Shares of Workhorse Group closed up 27.24% at $3.13 Thursday.
Workhorse, based in Cincinnati, is one of five finalists to win a lucrative U.S. Postal Service contract worth $6.3 billion to build 180,000 next-generation mail delivery trucks. Mahindra Automotive North America Inc., an India-based automaker, is also a finalist. A decision is expected by the end of the year.
GM is still looking to build a battery cell plant in the Lordstown area that will create about 1,000 jobs, it said.
“Nothing’s ever going to replace the 5,000 jobs in the GM plant and all the spinoff jobs,” said Tim O’Hara, UAW Local 1112 president. “For the Mahoning Valley, any job is a good job, but we don’t know what the jobs will pay and how many will be offered. If these turn out to be union jobs, it’ll be good for the valley from that aspect.”
A person familiar with the plans said the jobs are likely to start at $17 an hour.
End of GM at Lordstown
GM had built the Chevrolet Cruze compact car at Lordstown. In November 2018, GM said it would idle the plant along with three other plants in the United States: Detroit-Hamtramck, Warren Transmission and Baltimore Transmission.
The UAW had hoped during negotiations to get new products for the transmission plants and Lordstown to build. But GM only agreed to invest in Detroit-Hamtramck to build electric vehicles. The others remained closed.
Reaction to the news is mixed among former Lordstown workers.
“Needless to say we are heartbroken,” said Mike Yakim, who worked in Lordstown until transferring to GM’s Lansing Delta Township a few months ago. “It’s the last nail in the coffin for Lordstown and the Mahoning Valley.”
But former UAW Local 1112 President Dave Green said, “I feel bad for the people who are left behind and my hope moving forward is that it can grow because it’s a significant cry from 4,500 jobs out of the community. I’m glad something will be in there and it is not sitting empty.”
Since building the last Cruze in March, about 1,400 Lordstown workers transferred to other GM plants around the country. But nearly 400 of them declined transfers and remain in the Lordstown area, said O’Hara.
Earlier Thursday, GM management met with “several hundred” of the former Lordstown workers still in the area, said O’Hara. There were two meetings held inside conference rooms in the nearly vacant plant where GM managers reviewed the buyout options GM has offered in the new four-year union contract and answered questions, O’Hara said.
— Employees who turned down transfer offers have been offered buyouts of up to $75,000, and the option of one more job offer from GM.
— Retirement-eligible employees, including those who transferred, were offered either $75,000 (production workers) or $85,000 (skilled trades) if they opt to retire.
— Employees close to full retirement eligibility also were offered incentives to bridge to retirement.
O’Hara said neither GM nor Lordstown Motors has met with the union and details remain sketchy as to when Lordstown Motors will begin tooling the plant, hiring and starting production. It’s also unknown if the jobs will be unionized.
“If they’re going to be union represented, we’d like Local 1112 to be their bargaining agent when that time comes,” said O’Hara. “We don’t want the local to go away and that was a fear of ours after the contract ended.”