Lordstown Lost: General Motors Offloads Shuttered Chevy Cruze Plant

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

More by Steph Willems

Comments
Join the conversation
3 of 43 comments
  • 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 "But your author does wonder what the maintenance routine is going to be like on an Italian-German supercar that plays host to a high-revving engine, battery pack, and several electric motors."Probably not much different from the maintenance routine of any other Italian-German supercar with a high-revving engine.
  • 28-Cars-Later "The unions" need to not be the UAW and maybe there's a shot. Maybe.
  • 2manyvettes I had a Cougar of similar vintage that I bought from my late mother in law. It did not suffer the issues mentioned in this article, but being a Minnesota car it did have some weird issues, like a rusted brake line.(!) I do not remember the mileage of the vehicle, but it left my driveway when the transmission started making unwelcome noises. I traded it for a much newer Ford Fusion that served my daughter well until she finished college.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Couple of questions: 1) who will be the service partner for these when Rivian goes Tits Up? 2) What happens with software/operating system support when Rivia goes Tits Up? 3) What happens to the lease when Rivian goes Tits up?
  • Richard I loved these cars, I was blessed to own three. My first a red beauty 86. My second was an 87, 2+2, with digital everything. My third an 87, it had been ridden pretty hard when I got it but it served me well for several years. The first two I loved so much. Unfortunately they had fuel injection issue causing them to basically burst into flames. My son was with me at 10 years old when first one went up. I'm holding no grudges. Nissan gave me 1600$ for first one after jumping thru hoops for 3 years. I didn't bother trying with the second. Just wondering if anyone else had similar experience. I still love those cars.
Next