Lordstown Lost: General Motors Offloads Shuttered Chevy Cruze Plant

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
lordstown lost general motors offloads shuttered chevy cruze plant

That didn’t take long. With General Motors now in possession of a ratified four-year labor agreement, a plant the automaker closed down earlier this year, and one it had no intention of restoring to its past glory, is out of its hands.

Ohio’s Lordstown Assembly, which fell victim to dwindling passenger car sales (by the time of its closure, the facility was operating on one shift — down from three earlier in the Chevrolet Cruze’s life), has been sold to Lordstown Motors Corp., the automaker said Thursday.

The move was long expected. Lordstown Motors comprises a combination of business partners, among them Cincinnati-based Workhorse Group — the fledgling builder of electric pickups. Workhorse and its partners hope to use the former GM facility to build a retail plug-in pickup, though Workhorse, which shares its tech know-how with Lordstown Motors, is in the running for the lucrative U.S. Postal Service replacement vehicle contract.

The former Lordstown Assembly would likely be the home of those vehicles if Workhorse wins the contract. It would also be home to some 6,000 W-15 electric pickup prototypes Workhorse received pre-orders for, Bloomberg reports. Those pre-orders will apparently be flipped over to Lordstown Motors, though it’s another plug-in pickup — dubbed Endurance — that LM hopes to put into production on a mass scale, targeting fleet buyers.

The big question mark hanging over the plant purchase and Lordstown Motors’ dreams concerns money. GM didn’t reveal the details of the plant sale, and just how much cash LM has to work with isn’t known.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns, formerly head of Workhorse, said, “We are going to be fundraising for a while. We have to stand up an auto company.”

With money raised, Burns said he hopes to one day employ a number of UAW-affiliated GM workers laid off when the plant closed. Most remaining workers at Lordstown were transferred to other plants in the Midwest. In its tentative agreement, GM claimed the site would initially host 400 jobs, while a GM battery cell plant in the same region would eventually employ 1,000.

To build the Endurance, which Burns describes as having four electric motors, one at each wheel (meaning four-wheel drive), the company plans to tap the industry knowledge of a team containing members hailing from Ford, GM, and Karma Automotive. LM Chief Production Officer Rick Schmidt spent more than three years as Tesla’s manufacturing director.

“We’ve got a solid team and I’m confident in our fundraising efforts,” Burns said.

With Ford and GM both working on electric pickups, joined in that goal by Tesla and upstart (but better prepared than LM) Rivian, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly Lordstown Motors can put its plans into action. Readers at home can place bets.

[Images: General Motors]

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Nov 10, 2019

    It was a mistake to drop the Cruise but now that it has been done GM should take the Malibu and make some minor updates to the interior and lower the price to make it more competitive. There needs to be an affordable car that gets decent mpgs to fill in the void left by not having the Cruze. It is a mistake to totally abandoned the car market at the very least have one or two sedans in the mid to lower price range even if it means making these vehicles in Mexico.

    • MiataReallyIsTheAnswer MiataReallyIsTheAnswer on Nov 12, 2019

      "There needs to be an affordable car that gets decent mpgs to fill in the void left by not having the Cruze" I think they would say that's the Trax. Certainly more car than "SUV".

  • Oberkanone Oberkanone on Nov 10, 2019

    India lost. Europe lost. Japan lost. Malaysia lost. Lordstown lost. Soon GM will be left with only North American and China. Or maybe just China.

  • MaintenanceCosts We hear endlessly from the usual suspects about the scenarios where EVs don't work as well as gas cars. We never hear the opposite side of the coin. From an EV owner (since 2019) who has a second EV reserved, here are a few points the "I road trip 1000 miles every day" crowd won't tell you about:[list][*]When you have a convenient charging situation, EV fueling is more convenient than a gas car. There is no stopping at gas stations and you start every day with a full tank.[/*][*]Where there are no-idling rules (school pickup/dropoff, lines for ferries or services, city loading, whatever else) you can keep warm or cool to your heart's content in your EV.[/*][*]In the cold, EVs will give you heat from the second you turn them on.[/*][*]EVs don't care one bit if you use them for tons of very short trips. Their mechanicals don't need to boil off condensation. (Just tonight, I used my EV to drive six blocks, because it was 31 degrees and raining, and walking would have been unpleasant.)[/*][*]EVs don't stink and don't make you breathe carcinogens on cold start.[/*][*]EV maintenance is much less frequent and much cheaper, eliminating almost all items having to do with engine, transmission, or brakes in a gas car. In most EVs the maintenance schedule consists of battery coolant changes and tire maintenance.[/*][*]You can accelerate fast in EVs without noisily attracting the attention of the cops and every passerby on the street.[/*][/list]
  • MaintenanceCosts Still can't get a RAV4 Prime for love or money. Availability of normal hybrid RAV4s and Highlanders is only slightly better. At least around here I think Toyota could sell twice the number of vehicles that they are actually bringing in at the moment.
  • Tree Trunk Been in the market for a new Highlander Hybrid, it is sold out with order time of 6 months plus. Probably would have bit the bullet if it was not for the dealers the refuse to take an order but instead want to sell from allotment whether it fits or not and at thousands over MRSP.
  • AKHusky The expense argument is nonsense. My mach e was $42k after tax credit. Basically the same as similarly equipped edge. And it completely ignores that the best selling vehicles are Rams, F150s, and Silverados, all more expensive that a bolt, MAch e or ID4. As an owner, I'd say they are still in second car territory for most places in the country.
  • Johnster I live in a red state and I see quite a few EVs being purchased by conservative, upper-class Republicans (many of them Trump-supporters). I suspect that it is a way for them to flaunt their wealth and that, over time, the preference for EVs will trickle down to less well-off Republicans.