Steve Burns expects the workforce at the former General Motors Lordstown, Ohio, Assembly Plant to be union workers when production on an electric pickup starts anew there next year.
He likens the workers to a secret weapon.
The CEO of Lordstown Motors, which took possession of the more than 6-million-square-foot plant near Youngstown, Ohio, said that will put his company in a league with no one else because he doesn't know of any other electric vehicle startups with a union workforce. The company is a new entity backed by Workhorse Group, a Cincinnati-area electric vehicle company.
"To us, (the workers are) part of the secret weapon because we have taillights, we have seats, we have dash ... we have all the things that require a human to assemble. We still have to paint the vehicle and stamp out the metal so we need that skilled workforce,” Burns said in an interview with the Free Press, a day after the sale closed.
The price has not been disclosed, though the Tribune Chronicle of Warren, Ohio, reported that U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said the price was $20 million. Portman, an Ohio Republican, made the remarks while at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna. Burns told the Ohio paper he didn’t know where Portman got the number, but didn’t say it was wrong.
Burns told the Free Press that 450 production jobs are expected "out of the gate," with the bulk of hiring in September before production starts in November. Wages will be competitive, Burns said. He noted he has not reached out yet to the UAW.
"We’re making this our headquarters, so we want sales and marketing and as much engineering as we can to come out of that facility," Burns said.
He described a vision of an electric vehicle hub for the Midwest and a plant where electric motors, battery cells, battery packs and ancillary products are built.
"Since we’re a pure play electric and don’t need transmissions or engines or differentials or driveshafts, all those things that grew up around Detroit, we want the things that we need to grow up around Lordstown, if possible. We don’t want to be over-lofty, but we have the opportunity to do it, and we are focusing on it,” Burns said.