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Friday, 22 May 2020 22:58

GM’s Former Plant in Lordstown, OH, Will Return to Mass Vehicle Production, Thousands of Jobs

Written by Jamie LaReau, Detroit Free Press
Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns inside the former GM Lordstown Assembly plant, which his company purchased and is retooling to make the all-electric Endurance pickup truck.  Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns inside the former GM Lordstown Assembly plant, which his company purchased and is retooling to make the all-electric Endurance pickup truck.  Courtesy Lordstown Motors

Index

Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns has bold plans to fill the 6.2-million-square-foot facility he bought from General Motors last year.

Those plans include both people and products. The CEO said he will start hiring 600 workers next year to build the first 20,000 Endurance all-electric pickups Lordstown Motors is designing.

 

Then, starting in 2022, Burns will hire more people to build other all-electric vehicles, such as SUVs and a midsize pickup, he told the Free Press.

 

“We didn’t buy a mass volume plant like this and not plan to fill it up," Burns said. "This is a gem of a building built for volume manufacturing."

 

Burns expects to employ 4,000 to 5,000 people in the plant in the near future based on demand for electric vehicles, adding, "We think the electric pickup is the new normal.”

 

Lordstown Motors already has "well over several thousand" pre-orders for the $52,500 Endurance, even before the truck's been revealed, Burns said.

 

The company was set to reveal the Endurance at the Detroit Auto Show next month, but the show was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. So Lordstown Motors will do a "virtual" reveal instead. Burns is targeting late June to do that, and once he does, he expects to take pre-orders for all 20,000 pickups the automaker will build next year.

 

Just three years ago, Lordstown assembly plant, near Youngstown, OH, employed about 4,500 workers making GM's Chevrolet Cruze compact car. In its heyday, in the early 1990s, GM employed about 10,600 people at the plant.

 

But on March 6, 2019, the last Cruze rolled off the line. Lordstown was one of four U.S. plants GM said it would shutter as it ended production of some of its cars to accommodate shifting consumer tastes to SUVs and pickups. GM's Detroit Hamtramck was supposed to also be one of those four to close, but during UAW contract talks, GM agreed to invest $3 billion in it to make an electric pickup and SUVs there.

 

Most of the 1,600 workers left at Lordstown last spring were transferred to other GM plants across the country. Then, GM sold the facility to Lordstown Motors. The plant and adjoining five parcels of land sold for $20 million, according to local records.

 

GM had an option to lease the Lordstown facilities and land as well as the option to repurchase the assets. But GM will not exercise those options, Dan Flores, GM spokesman told the Free Press, adding, "We're not taking the plant back."

 

Lordstown Motors had retained Cleveland investment bank Brown Gibbons Lang & Co. to help it raise $450 million to retool the plant, Forbes reported last Novemberr, but Burns declined to comment on financials other than to say, "Except for COVID, we’re on course.”


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