By on May 8, 2019

Image: Workhorse W-15, by Corey Lewis

In a surprising turn of events, President Donald Trump broke a hot bit of news on Wednesday, tweeting that electric truck maker Workhorse Group has closed a deal to buy GM’s mothballed Lordstown Assembly plant, formerly home to the Chevrolet Cruze.

The news came by way of GM CEO Mary Barra, Trump said, and the automaker isn’t denying the plant sale.

Workhorse, you’ll recall, is the Cincinnati-based builder of an extended-range EV pickup — one TTAC’s Corey Lewis crawled all over back in September of 2017. Earlier that year, the company began taking fleet orders for its W-15 pickup, with the general public getting in on orders in January of 2018.

“GREAT NEWS FOR OHIO!” Trump said, laying out the news in two consecutive tweets.

“Just spoke to Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, who informed me that, subject to a UAW agreement etc., GM will be selling their beautiful Lordstown Plant to Workhorse, where they plan to build Electric Trucks. GM will also be spending $700,000,000 in Ohio…in 3 separate locations, creating another 450 jobs. I have been working nicely with GM to get this done. Thank you to Mary B, your GREAT Governor, and Senator Rob Portman. With all the car companies coming back, and much more, THE USA IS BOOMING!”

Lordstown

Lordstown Assembly built its last Cruze in March, ending a plant production run that started in 1966. Down to one shift at the time of the discontinuation, GM’s decision to “unallocate” the plant left 1,800 workers in search of jobs. Last month, group of 100 of workers finished building Cruze replacement parts.

While Workhorse is a small company, a GM spokesperson told NBC affiliate WKYC the automaker is “not disputing any info in the tweets.”

 

The Workhorse W-15 is capable of driving 80 miles on electric power alone. Its platform is an in-house job, with range extended by the presence of a gasoline engine that acts as a generator. Payload is 2,200 pounds and towing capacity is 5,000 pounds, the company says, and pricing starts at $52,500 before applicable tax credits.

Total system horsepower is 460 hp.

Image: Workhorse W-15, by Corey Lewis

Two electric motors, fed by a battery pack supplied by Panasonic, give the W-15 all-wheel drive capability, and the only bodystyle available for order is a crew cab with a 6.5-foot bed. Workhorse said early last year that the W-15 would enter full production in 2019.

As of publication time, General Motors had not officially announced the sale of Lordstown Assembly. We’ll get you word on that when it appears. Interestingly, the Workhorse website is down.

(Update: In a release, GM said “it is in discussions with Workhorse Group Inc. and an affiliated, newly formed entity to sell the company’s Lordstown Complex in Lordstown, Ohio. The move has the potential to bring significant production and electric vehicle assembly jobs to the plant. Upon final agreement, the entity, led by Workhorse founder Steve Burns, would acquire the facility. Workhorse would hold a minority interest in the new entity.”

Once a final agreement is reached, work could begin immediately to prepare the plant for electric pickup production, GM said.

The 450 Ohio jobs mentioned by Trump are manufacturing positions split between GM’s diesel engine-building DMAX plant in Moraine, Toledo Transmission (home of the 10-speed automatic), and Parma Metal Center, producer of stamped parts.)

[Images: Corey Lewis/TTAC, General Motors]

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20 Comments on “Trump: Electric Truck Maker to Buy GM’s Lordstown Assembly...”


  • avatar
    R Henry

    Looks like the next muni Fleet Special….coming to a Public Works yard near you.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      The concept is a good one, though I agree I don’t expect the kind of sales that would keep such a plant open. However, the ‘third-party’ partnership, almost certainly building a different EV product, might work for a while similarly to when Toyota and GM shared the NUMMI plant in Fremont, CA. We’ll just have to wait and see but at least for now, I think somebody’s horn-blowing could result in the exact opposite of what he’s claiming.

  • avatar
    PickupMan

    Next step:-Squeeze Ohio for millions in subsidies, followed by a disappearing act?

    (See “Foxcon in Wisconsin”)

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Having grown up in the Valley, we’ve had our fair share of “job charlatans” come along and promise us vaporware jobs. Anybody remember the blimp factory?

    Part of me hopes this is true, but there’s another part of me that wonders how many vehicles Workhorse is going to sell in the near future? They haven’t been on my radar in quite a while, but I have serious doubts they will employ as many people as GM did even when the Cruze was on one shift only.

    Good luck, homies. I think you’re going to need it.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      Lets remember workhorse isn’t some fly-by night company.

      They were a successful, profitable EV conversion company converting Saturns for the European market. They sold them in large quantities and were manufacturing them for years.

      When Saturn shut down unexpectantly, it threw them into a downward spiral because all their designs and equipment were based on the saturn brand and vehicles.

      They never really sold in the US, but they have been manufactured in Ohio since 2007.

      Instead of folding however, they started building out their technology in other areas- drones, helicopters, and the Workhorse truck.

      The truck is interesting. after being burned so bad by Saturn, its no surprise that they didn’t want to build off another vehicle and be at the mercy of that company’s manufacturing success…. so like most people who get burned by a strategy, they tried a different one: Creating a vehicle from scratch.

      However unlike other startups, they have successfully been building and selling their systems for many years…. into a thriving business.

      So yes, they aren’t real profitable at this moment, but they were a shining success story in the EV world at one time under the “AMP” brand, and there are few companies which turn a profit in that industry. In addition, in a world where companies promise stuff now that turn into vaporware, workhorse actually makes their cars. If I recall, Corey even wrote an article about it not too long ago because they are manufactured close to him. Its not vaporware- you can like buy them NOW.

      So now you have a company that is fairly quiet, with expertise in their industry, finally having a cool opportunity to scale up drastically. That is really exciting.

      I hate to see people talking about this company as if its another one of those vaporware OEMs that shows up at car shows with vague promises about their future.

      Workhorse is a good company which actually builds stuff and has a good history of innovation and vehicle building.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        There is much in your statement that I didn’t know, arach, but part of that is not accurate; Workhorse’s truck efforts were still based on GM’s Chevy Silverado with a modified grille rather than a clean-sheet design and I don’t expect to see much difference until the company can start making a profit on that business compared to the multi-billion-dollar losses they’re currently reporting. Granted, those losses are mostly capital investments while trying to make themselves relevant in a rapidly-growing market but they will reach a point where they need to either partner more closely with GM for overall body and chassis or come up with a clean-sheet design of their own.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        Thats fair enough. I didn’t mean that piece to be inaccurate. I used to own stock in them and followed them like a hawk in the late 2000s. They could be based on a modified chevy. I did think they were clean sheet though… why would they modify it so heavily then?

        A chevy partnership would be nice, and probably a good aquisition target for GM down the road given what is going on with Ford… but I’m guessing GM’s plan will be to “just do it themselves”

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @arach: I’ve followed the goings-on in the pickup truck industry for a long time, until about 5 years ago through a Cars dot com-associated site called pickup trucks dot com. I believe Workhorse was first mentioned there somewhere around 2005-2008 where they went into detail how they converted the GM trucks and changed the nose caps to improve aerodynamics (while also utilizing a smaller engine than typical for the EREV (extended range EV) battery charging. They were also noted, IIRC, for rigging GM trucks to dual-fuel between gasoline and CNG even to automatic engine adjustments when switching from one to the other on the fly. The company certainly has the technical background but the process was simplified greatly by not having to design and build the body and chassis beyond what was needed to accommodate the CNG tanks or installing the batteries. I don’t remember exactly but I think they used long-bed frames with short beds to fit the tanks/batteries between cab and bed.

          By using two powered axles, there’s no need for a driveshaft to run between the frame rails front to back, letting the batteries occupy that space while the fuel tank(s) probably saddle onto either side of the frame outside of the batteries and a relatively small exhaust pipe can ride either side and still be covered by the body. I don’t recall exactly where they placed the fuel tank but it may be forward of the batteries. A clean-sheet design could make the battery pack housing part of the frame, similar to Tesla, or keep it a more traditional body-on-frame design with multiple battery packs depending on desired range. Again, I don’t recall what I read early on but I have been following the brand as far as online reporting has carried it.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @arach: WRT to the conversion of Saturn vehicles… I’m curious as to why this would pose a problem. With the exception of the Astra, the Saturn vehicles built right before the ATF shut them down were all made on USDM GM platforms. Even the Astra was made on the global Delta platform. I fail to see why the shuttering of a “badge engineered” division would cause a problem. It seems there’s a piece of the puzzle missing…

        Regarding my statement about vaporware companies, in the late 70’s after many of the steel mills closed, there were some businessmen who were trying to get companies started in the area. One of which was a blimp manufacturing company that would have been situated on the north end of Youngstown, on the same side as the airport. It never happened.

        The blimp factory is why I bring up vaporware, there’s been plenty of electric start-ups that are in a state of suspended animation. Faraday Future anyone? Like others have mentioned here, this is scaling up by a huge amount. Even though I haven’t been in Lordstown since the mid-1970’s, it’s still as massive from the outside as I remember the inside being massive. And they’ve added on a couple of times since I was a kid.

        Even if they have credible demand and a plan to fill it, it’s a huge facility. With the advances in working technology, they won’t need the same amount of people as GM did for the Cruze.

        Just my observation.

      • 0 avatar
        redgolf

        arach, interesting info on the electric Saturn, I worked at the Saturn plant from 91 -2011 first I heard of this, thank you.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    In other words, our President jumped the gun on the sale in order to claim credit for something that may still fall through. This sale, if and when closed, should be the sole provision of GM and/or Workhouse to announce, not the President of the United States.

  • avatar
    Fred

    http://www.workhorse.com/ comes up with a error. Maybe they are just overwhelmed or something else.

    • 0 avatar
      pale ghost

      I got the October/CMS default web page – October/CMS is a web site building tool like WordPress. Maybe they are in the process of updating their site with the news.

  • avatar
    James2

    The cab already looks like it comes from GM.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    “Plan to build….”
    Umm, okay.

    That aside, sounds like a small company built a Volt variant that actually might be in demand.

  • avatar
    EGSE

    Way more capacity than Workhorse needs, way more expensive than Workhorse can afford. So they get a partner who will be the majority owner who could also build their own electric product there, in the U.S. A great way to get around pesky tariffs and green-wash their image. Hmmm…wonder who it could be and where they come from?

    The story (and devil) are in the details which haven’t emerged yet.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    So this is like when Elio “bought” the Shreveport S-10 plant from GM and never built anything in it?

  • avatar
    seth1065

    2 questions why does the UAW have a say? and does the plant have to stay Union?

    Their sales are tiny 736K at $44k a truck does not amount to much.


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