A startup electric truck company affiliated with Greater Cincinnati's Workhorse Group has purchased the former General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio, according to multiple media reports.
That 6.2 million-square-foot plant, which employed 4,500 workers before GM shuttered earlier this year, has become a symbol of the fate of manufacturing in the Buckeye State — something Republican President Donald Trump promised to restore when he campaigned for election in 2016. The layoffs were seen as a possible political blow to Trump's reelection bid.
Back in May, Trump tweeted that a deal between GM and Workhorse was imminent. But the reality was more complicated.
The actual transaction GM was discussing wasn't with Workhorse itself, which currently has just 98 full-time employees, but a startup company led by Workhorse co-founder and former CEO Steve Burns as the majority owner.
That startup, named Lordstown Motors, has acquired the GM plant, Bloomberg reported today. Now, the company's focus is on raising enough investment to ready a product for sale and retool the plant, which will employ 400 people, not the the thousands that once worked there.
The company plans on focusing on no-frills electric trucks called Endurance for fleet customers. That truck will have four motors, one driving each of its wheels, according to Burns.
Workhorse last year won a contract to build 950 electric vans for the United States Postal Service and has also partnered with a Singapore-based company to compete for a $3.6 billion contract replacing many more USPS vehicles. Those vehicles could also be made at the Lordstown plant.
"One of the largest and most productive auto manufacturing plants of all time, the Lordstown Complex will serve as our headquarters, with our mission being to create the leading electric vehicle epicenter in the region," an update on Lordstown Motors' website reads. "This plant — combined with the legendary capability of the people who work there — is where we will build the work vehicles of the future."
Burns told the New York Times that the company will give preference to former GM workers and that its workforce will be unionized.
“We think it is appropriate that it is union,” Burns said. “Our goal is to hire those folks first who have experience and are still in Lordstown."