By on November 7, 2019

Image: GM

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.

Lordstown

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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43 Comments on “Lordstown Lost: General Motors Offloads Shuttered Chevy Cruze Plant...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Lots of moving parts there, but I hope they succeed.

    As for the EV pickup/truck market, I’m wondering if each mfr will define their own niche of applications, rather than compete directly with each other.

    A major exception will be Ford and GM, which is always head-to-head competition. But with Tesla hinting at an off-beat truck (a mistake, IMO), they may only have limited appeal. Delivery, OTR hauling, and consumer grocery use cases may all end up being owned by one mfr each. Nobody is going to own the whole EV truck pie.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      This is where EV’s should work well – local or short range delivery vehicles. I’m all for Rivan and Workhorse (or Lordstown Motors) succeeding with this.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “This is where EV’s should work well – local or short-range delivery vehicles”

        Why not long-range? The Tesla semi-truck is over 600 miles range. Batteries are getting lighter, denser, and cheaper. For example, Tesla is now planning to offer the Model S with a larger than 100kWh battery and Toyota will unveil its solid-state battery in a vehicle in the opening ceremonies for the Olympics (according to Toyota CTO Shigeki Terashi). EV technology is advancing at a quick pace.

        • 0 avatar
          bullnuke

          You’re correct. I saw twenty-two Tesla 18-wheelers run down US 36 past the house today. Then the dog woke me up…

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            The Grumman LLV which brings my mail 6 days a week comes to a complete stop every ~100 feet. Two things I would be interested to know:
            – The actual observed fuel economy of that vehicle on its daily route [i.e., how much lower than the EPA 16/18]
            – The number of miles it drives daily

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            9 mpg and 18 miles per day. https://greatbusinessschools.org/usps-long-life-vehicle/ So yeah an EV would be perfect for the majority of routes.

          • 0 avatar
            indi500fan

            Surely by now there are dozens of Tesla semis carrying the battery packs and drive motors from the Nevada factory to the Fremont assy plant, right? And since it’s downhill, they arrive at Fremont with more battery charge than they left with!

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          There are definitely use cases for this technology but enthusiasts tend to conflate what they want/like with economic and scientific realities. Even in the LLV example cited later in the thread, do the figures become profitable given initial cost, running costs, and battery replacement and/or disposal.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Scoutdude,
            Excellent post, thanks. I saw a forum where drivers were reporting under 4 mpg observed.

            28-Cars-Later,
            The link Scoutdude referenced includes some payback/return analysis if you are interested.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    I am fascinated by the sudden “Oklahoma Land Rush” to Electric pickups. Ford, Rivan, GM, Tesla, and Workhorse are all promising “Elec-Caminos” within the next year or so. I wonder (leaving brand distinctions aside for a moment) what percentage of the pickup truck market electric trucks can grab.

    As for the Lordstown Motors venture, it sure seems like a “we could have ham and eggs for breakfast deal”* where the purchasers got financing for the plant because they are in the running for the USPS contract, and they are in the running for the USPS contract because they have a plant in which they could produce their design in volume. Now they just need to get someone to lend them money to purchase parts and materials, hire a staff, and begin production on the basis of those two things. As SECtoAUX says, that’s a lot of moving parts.

    * The story goes “Tell Billy we will have ham and eggs for breakfast if he brings the ham, and tell Ted we will have ham and eggs for breakfast if he brings the eggs.”

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      It makes sense in that it’s a popular platform that actually has a hope in hell in recouping cost. Market acceptance is the big hurtle for mainstream automakers, though. Believe me, they WANT to sell electrified vehicles for that sweet sweet CAFE/GHG credit.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Everything on EVs is limited by the batteries.

      The coincidence of truck releases is probably due to an advance in battery technology across the industry that all of these players have, but which they think they’re hiding from the competition.

      We’ll find out on the 22nd, and presumably whenever Ford does their F-150 unveiling.

      Personally, I miss having a truck but I hated the V8 in my last truck. So an EV truck is intriguing, but a Model Y and a beater truck might be a better deal. I’ll find out soon, I suppose!

  • avatar

    Then one day Toyota will come with its superior FC technology pickup and own the market.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Keep dreaming…

      “…GM will release 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023, two of which will arrive in showrooms in the next 6 months. According to a press release accompanying the announcement, this score of EVs will be propelled by electric systems featuring either batteries or fuel cells.”

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Given the state of where Toyota trucks rank with respect to things like capability, fuel economy, and modern infotainment compared to their competition, I’d guess it’ll be right about 10 years after everyone else has done it and moved on.

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    GM

    Thank you for providing 50 years of good paying Union Jobs for the Lordstown community.

  • avatar
    thejohnnycanuck

    It still baffles me that just when GM finally builds a decent compact car they pull the plug. The Cruze may not have sold in Corolla or Civic volumes but that didn’t make it a bad choice by any stretch.

    Too bad they never did an SS. Not saying it would have saved it from getting the axe but you sure did and still do see a lot of those Cobalts.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      They didn’t have enough sales to justify a single platform model after they canceled the Buick Verano. They didn’t have the sales for the Verano because they didn’t advertise, and then they didn’t have the sales of the Cruze because they didn’t advertise.

      GM still knows how to make cars, they don’t know how to market them anymore. There’s nothing like “See the USA in your Chevrolet”, or “wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?”.

      Both models would have benefitted from using the brands’ previous compact model names, like Nova and Special. Having one plant for the platform made no sense in the old days, when there would have been an Olds F85/Cutlass, or Pontiac Tempest/Lemans to spread the platform around.

      • 0 avatar
        crtfour

        I’m baffled by the lack of advertising and how bad the advertising is when they do it. Check out this series of ads from the 1980’s ; now this was advertising.

        http://www.curbsideclassic.com/blog/cc-tv/cc-tv-gm-ads-and-a-few-other-tidbits-from-1984-cbs-boradcast-of-washington/

      • 0 avatar

        Lets be honest GM does not do anything really well. This is why they dropped to fourth place in international sales. If the FCA PSA merger is finalized GM will drop to fifth!!!

      • 0 avatar
        Oberkanone

        Chevrolet sells six different compact or smaller cars under the Chevrolet brand in Mexico.
        Cruze sold at higher volume than any of the six.
        Cruze had the sales numbers.
        Cruze had just been updated, GM easily could have continued selling the Cruze with minimal updates for 5 or more years.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        The Verano outaold the Acura ILX almost 3-to-1. Today the ILX is still based on a 2013 Honda Civic.

    • 0 avatar
      here4aSammich

      A Cobalt? Let alone a Cobalt SS? Can’t tell you the last time I saw one here. They must all be hiding north of the border, Johnny Canuck….

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      They lost money, plain and simple. It shows what it takes to make a “good” compact car, the ability to withstand losses.

    • 0 avatar
      redapple

      john canuck:

      1- GM has a long history of ‘fixing’ cars – then killing them off.
      2- Cruze- they did offer a ‘RS.’ Not an SS tho. They sold 7 of them.

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      I really liked our 2014 lease Cruze, never had one issue with it!

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      ” but you sure did and still do see a lot of those Cobalts.”

      …On reruns of COPS with the drivers attempting to convince the Police Officer that the Meth in the glove compartment wasn’t theirs.

      There, finished it for you.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    As a former resident of the Valley, I have my doubts. After the downfall of the steel mills, there have been several “attempts” to bring jobs back to the Valley, all of which failed.

    “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.”” Yes, this will end badly…

    Time to start the Lordstown Motors Deathwatch. Check back in 12 months and see if this BS ever got off the ground. I hope I’m wrong.

    But I doubt it.

    • 0 avatar

      Lets be honest GM does not do anything really well. This is why they dropped to fourth place in international sales. If the FCA PSA merger is finalized GM will drop to fifth!!!

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Even Toyota dropped the Synergy tagline. EV revolution is here!

        “…GM will release 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023, two of which will arrive in showrooms in the next 6 months. According to a press release accompanying the announcement, this score of EVs will be propelled by electric systems featuring either batteries or fuel cells.”

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I hope for the community’s sake that this EV pickup company isn’t vaporware.

  • avatar

    Cancelling the Cruze was unsolicited and unwise. GM was selling about 140,000 a year, which put it on par with the Korean competition. The Cruze was cancelled because weak-willed Barra was pressured by Wall Street to do so.
    It was also done to free up finances for GM’s ill-fated electrification initiative.

    • 0 avatar
      Oberkanone

      Cruze was selling at 200K plus a year USA and Canada combined.
      GM reduced production in 2018 in preparation of closing Lordstown.
      At one shift with and 100K plus output the Cruze would be profitable and sustainable.

    • 0 avatar
      tomLU86

      Bingo Akear!

      Very unwise.

      The Cruze was not a standout, but it was not a laggard either. It was a credible competitor to the Corolla, Civic, or Elantra. It was in the top four.

      I’m sure GM made money on it. Not very much, but it did not lose money.

      It was cancelled to improved the company’s profit margins. Also (and this is sad, but credible), labor relations at Lordstown were not ideal.

      But here’s the thing: we are one, small mis-step away from a mid-east incident or conflict. When that happens, the price of fuel could skyrocket–more importantly, the availability of fuel could become problematic.

      The last time that happened, in August 2008, I understand Cobalts were flying off the delivery truck. LOWLY Cobalts.

      GM will get caught with it’s pants down.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Lordstown memory…touring the plant in 1969.
    They built Firebirds (unibody with front subframe) and Chevy B-bodies (body on full frame) interchangeably on the same assy line.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I honestly think killed the Cruise to take advantage of owner and dealership loyalty to the brand and move them into more profitable ,more expensive models. I see this in small towns. Folks who are loyal to their local USDMs will buy from the local store what’s available , but not necessarily meeting their true needs/budget.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

      “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”.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    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.


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