UPDATE | GM details plan to sell Lordstown plant to Workhorse

DETROIT — General Motors Co. said the move to sell its Lordstown facility to electric vehicle-maker Workhorse Group Inc. “has the potential to bring significant production and electric vehicle assembly jobs to the plant,” in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

Governor on future of GM Lordstown plant

Video Image Link | Published: May 8, 2019 at 2:02 p.m.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted spoke today about the potential sale of the General Motors facility in Lordstown.

“This potential agreement creates a positive outcome for all parties involved and will help solidify the leadership of Workhorse’s role in the [electric vehicle] community,” said Workhorse CEO Duane Hughes.

The Cincinnati company’s founder Steve Burns said the company’s first vehicle produced at the Lordstown plant would be a “commercial electric pickup.”

GM has been in discussions since November with United Automobile Workers Local 1112 officials on changes in the auto market and their impact on the Lordstown facility, the release states.

“We remain committed to growing manufacturing jobs in the U.S., including in Ohio, and we see this development as a potential win-win for everyone,” said GM CEO Mary Barra. “Workhorse has innovative technologies that could help preserve Lordstown’s more than 50-year tradition of vehicle assembly work.”

Work to develop the facility could begin “immediately,” once all parties sign off on the sale, the release states.

2:33 p.m.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown questioned whether the proposed sale by General Motors of its Lordstown facility can provide enough jobs to make up for the total 4,500 workers the company has laid off or displaced since 2016.

Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, called on GM to provide full details to workers so they can make an informed decision about whether the sale should go forward. He demanded GM CEO Mary Barra provide details to Lordstown workers.

“It’s still too early to tell whether the proposed sale of Lordstown is good news for workers there,” Brown said. “Workhorse is a leader in electric vehicle manufacturing and we are proud to have them call Ohio home, but GM cannot shirk its responsibility to these workers. My No. 1 job is always to fight for the best possible outcome for Ohio workers, and that’s what I will continue to do as we learn more.”

1:10 p.m.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said he spoke today with Mary Barra, General Motors CEO, about the potential sale of the Lordstown facility.

Portman, a Cincinnati-area Republican, said: “She also told me that GM, subject to the approval of the [United Auto Workers], is in negotiations to sell the Lordstown plant to the Workhorse Group to make commercial electric trucks. I also spoke with Dave Green, UAW Local 1112 president, about the news. My message to GM all along has been either to bring a new GM vehicle to the plant or to find a partner that will use this world-class facility so people can get back to work. I look forward to hearing more from Workhorse about its plans to bring jobs to Lordstown, and I’m hopeful that this news will benefit the workers there. I want to thank President [Donald] Trump for his help in finding a positive solution for Lordstown. I will continue to work with GM, the UAW, and other key stakeholders on this matter in the coming weeks and months.”

Meanwhile, in Brookfield, State Sen. Sean O'Brien said he heard directly from General Motors today that Workhorse, a Cincinnati-area company that makes electric trucks, drones and aircraft has a tentative agreement to buy the GM Lordstown facility and create about 400 jobs initially with the potential to grow to "thousands."

O'Brien gave a news conference on the announcement at the Eastern District Court building on state Route 82.

O'Brien said it could take about nine to 10 months to get the plant ready to manufacture its products, but it will take some additional time to carry out negotiations with the United Auto Works union to reach an agreement on having GM workers staff the facility.

12:52 p.m.

DETROIT — In response to word that General Motors may sell its Lordstown plant to Workhorse Group Inc., Terry Dittes, United Auto Workers’ national vice president, said, “The UAW’s position is unequivocal: General Motors should assign a product to the Lordstown facility and continue operating it. A federal lawsuit filed by the UAW over the closing of the Lordstown, Baltimore and Warren facilities is still pending, and the UAW will continue its effort to protect the contractual rights of its members at these locations.”

He added: “The parties regularly discuss product placement issues during national negotiations which will begin in July of this year. We will monitor this situation as it develops to determine what course of action will most benefit UAW-represented workers at General Motors.”

Also, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted will speak to the media at 1:30 p.m. regarding the potential sale of the General Motors facility in Lordstown. The press conference will be streamed live on Vindy.com

12:47 p.m.

YOUNGSTOWN — James Dignan, CEO of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he had been working with the office of Gov. Mike DeWine and JobsOhio to urge GM to decide the fate of the Lordstown plant, but learned about the company’s intentions through President Donald Trump’s midday tweet.

“We were working with them on, hopefully, to get GM moving and encourage them to invest in the Lordstown facility, but we weren’t really hearing much,” he said. “The governor has been meeting with [GM CEO] Mary Barra directly since he took office.

“Until today, we didn’t know there was any inkling one way or another. The governor has always intimated ‘If you’re never going to invest, then sell. Now we have confirmation that the inclination is to sell.”

12:31 p.m.

YOUNGSTOWN — Mahoning County Commissioner David Ditzler said he was “disappointed” to hear of General Motors’ plans to sell its Lordstown facility to a smaller electric-vehicle maker.

“It’s great something will be utilized there but until I see to what extent and what the employee levels are and what jobs are being brought back … I’m in a ‘wait-and-see’ mode,” he said.

Commissioner Anthony Traficanti said he would like to know whether the ... jobs pledged to return to the facility will be union jobs and if former GM employees would be given an opportunity to apply.

“I would like to see those folks in-line and I’d also like to see the [United Automobile Workers Local 1112] be involved in this negotiation,” he said. “We have no idea what this company pays. … We want union wages and we want UAW at the table.”

Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti said though it’s still too early to determine whether Workhorse Group Inc. will be the right fit for the Mahoning Valley. She would rather GM upgrade the Lordstown plant and “come back from Mexico.”

“This is what they need to do. If we’re going to ever keep America strong, then we need to keep the jobs in America,” she said.

12:20 p.m.

CINCINNATI — Workhorse Group Incorporated is a Cincinnati-based company that manufactures electric delivery and utility vehicles.

The company was founded in 1998 by investors who took of the production of General Motors’ P30/P32 series stepvan and motorhome chassis.

Its products include electric cargo vans, medium and light-duty pickup trucks and delivery drone systems.

The company’s shares surged 32 percent Wednesday afternoon following Trump’s tweet announcing General Motors was selling the plant to Workhorse.

However, the company has endured recent financial struggles according to Seeking Alpha, a content service company that provides financial and stock market analysis.

The website reports that in 2018, Workhorse spent $21.8 million in operating activities on net sales of just $800,000

In January, Seeking Alpha reported the "ailing" electric vehicle developer announced a $35 million financing agreement with Marathon Asset Management, six months after the company closed its most recent $6.1 million agreement for a term loan with a fund managed by Arosa Capital Management.

The stock, WKHS, was at $1.17 at noon, up 38 percent.

12:17 p.m.

WARREN — Trumbull County Commissioner Frank Fuda said today officials were made aware that a real estate agent had been inquiring about the GM Lordstown facility but there was not a lot of information on who was behind it.

Fuda said he believes GM "knew along time ago" that the facility would be sold to another company.

12:14 p.m.

LORDSTOWN — State Sen. Michael Rulli said he was informed by General Motors today that the company is on board with selling the Lordstown plant to Workhorse, but that “last piece of the puzzle” was approval by the United Auto Workers union.

The possible sale could “potentially be thousands of jobs” at the idled facility, said Rulli of Salem, R-33rd.

“I’m very, very excited,” he said. “We’re going to do everything we can to help the UAW and the company work out the details and make sure we don’t get any snags.”

Rulli said the GM government liaison he spoke to didn’t have a lot of details, “but it looks extremely promising.”

Dave Green, UAW Local 1112 president, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Cincinnati Republican, tweeted: “Optimistic about the news today for the #Lordstown community. I’ve worked with Workhorse and look forward to further developments and news from @GM. #Ohio,” and “I want to thank @realDonaldTrump for his help in bringing new production to #Lordstown. I’m hopeful we will see the #Lordstown plant humming again. #jobs #Ohio”

12:04 p.m.

LORDSTOWN — Mayor Arno Hill said he is happy to hear that there is a buyer for the GM Lordstown plant, a company called Workhorse, which has its headquarters in the Cincinnati area and makes electric trucks, delivery drones and aircraft.

Hill said he doesn't know how many people Workhorse will employ, but he's optimistic that it will be a good fit. He said his first choice would be for General Motors to bring a vehicle back to the plant, but because he knows so little about what is going to happen, he doesn't know whether the announced company will be just as good as GM.

11:54 a.m.

LORDSTOWN — President Donald Trump tweeted this morning that General Motors will sell its idled Lordstown plant to Workhorse.

In a two-part tweet, Trump wrote: “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...” and “....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!”