Lordstown Motors is seeking to acquire the General Motors Lordstown Plant in Ohio, and in the process, transform it into an “epicenter” for electric vehicles, according to statements made by the company’s CEO, Steve Burns, earlier this week ahead of a keynote panel at the Energy Storage Building Efficiency conference.
The 6.2-million-square-foot facility first opened in 1966, and produced 16 million vehicles before it was idled in March. Most recently, the plant had produced the Chevrolet Cruze.
Negotiations to acquire the plant have been ongoing for months now, but the recent GM strike by the United Auto Workers union has added an extra layer of complexity to the situation. Nevertheless, Burns remains adamant that the plant is the way forward for the company’s upcoming line of electric vehicles.
“We are designing trucks that can be built in that plant,” Burns said. “We’re assuming we’re going to get it, but it’s not 100 percent. It’s used to building smaller vehicles and we’re going to build full-size pickup trucks. We don’t feel there are any pinch points there.”
Critically, Burns envisions far more than just production at the Lordstown facility. In addition to producing electric vehicles, Lordstown Motors also wants to establish its headquarters there, opening positions in human resources, sales, and engineering.
“Every person won’t work it, but it will be the majority. This will be our headquarters. We want to build an epicenter here: wire harnesses, motors, battery cells and all the new components,” Burns said. “We want those in our building if possible. We’re not just bringing a vehicle to Lordstown that can run its five-year course.”
Even if Lordstown Motors doesn’t acquire the plant, the Burns said the company is still committed to building its electric vehicles there.
“Our company name is Lordstown Motors Corp., so we’ll either have to buy a town out in the desert and name it Lordstown or do something here,” Burns said with a laugh. “The workforce is here, so we have to be here.”
Indeed, Burns considers the greater community to be major asset. “What attracted us was the plant, but the workforce and people are the secret weapon,” Burns said. “A lot of people are available and they have the skillset to do the work. It’s very difficult to find that in quantity.”
If everything goes through smoothly, Lordstown Motors would like to begin production as early as the end of 2020.
Meanwhile, striking UAW members have called on GM to provide a new vehicle allocation to the plant, with some questioning the extent to which electric vehicles and battery production would support the community in terms of wages and jobs.
Source: The Business Journal