Update: Adds responses from GM and Workhorse.
President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that Cincinnati-based startup electric truckmaker Workhorse may buy GM's Lordstown, Ohio, factory.
That factory has been the subject of boisterous political debate between Trump and General Motors since the company announced last November that it would idle the plant and discontinue the Chevrolet Cruze compact car that it built.
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The announcement was part of a larger downsizing in which GM discontinued the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid, which used the Cruze's platform, among other cars, and would focus resources on building new electric cars in its transition to what CEO Mary Barra has called an "electric future" for the automaker.
Trump erupted at the announcement in November and said "all electric is not going to work."
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On Wednesday, he had friendlier words for Barra in announcing the Lordstown deal:
GREAT NEWS FOR OHIO! 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...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2019
The plan is still subject to approval by the United Auto Workers and other stakeholders.
In a statement, General Motors said, the company "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."
"We remain committed to growing manufacturing jobs in the U.S., including in Ohio," Barra added in the statement, "and we see this development as a potential win-win for everyone.”
Workhorse W-15 extended-range electric pickup truck
Workhorse began developing its W-15 range-extended electric pickup in 2016. It is expected to have a large battery pack capable of providing up to 80 miles of electric range along with a small gasoline range extender. Last year, the company claimed it had 1,000 deposits of $1,000 each from customers for pre-orders.
In the meantime, the company has developed a name—and a revenue stream—converting delivery vans to electric power. UPS ordered 1,000 of the vans last June. Workhorse is also developing its own vans.
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Workhorse also announced plans last year to develop a hybrid-powered passenger drone, and has suggested it could build similar models for its package delivery customers.
When GM announced the plant-closure, it said it would find other jobs for most of its 1,600 workers, though many were at other factories and would require relocation. According to its most recent filings with the SEC, Workhorse currently employs 98 workers.
In coordination with the GM statement, Workhorse founder Steve Burns said, "The first vehicle we would plan to build if we were to purchase the Lordstown Complex would be a commercial electric pickup, blending Workhorse’s technology with Lordstown’s manufacturing expertise.”