Startup to Produce Electric Vehicles in Repurposed GM Plant

Ohio electric vehicle startup, Lordstown Motors, agreed to a deal to take over the 6.2 million-square foot General Motors assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio in November. The acquisition exhibits a broad move toward electric and efficiency technologies in the automotive industry; a move that will benefit the Ohio manufacturing industry.

Lordstown Motors ended more than half a year’s uncertainty surrounding the future of the Northeast Ohio plant. The group is hopeful that another uncertainty, a United States Postal Service truck deal worth $6.3 billion, will go their way. The 180,000 vehicles produced as part of this deal would all be electric.

Lordstown Motor’s CEO, Steve Burns, is no stranger to electric vehicles. He left the Cincinnati-based Workhorse Group, but brought with him licensing for the company’s electric truck technologies as well as 6,000 pre-orders for the Endurance electric pickup truck from Duke Energy and 18 other large fleet companies.

The auto manufacturing industry has long played a crucial role in Ohio’s economy. According to the Ohio Development Services Agency, in 2018 76 of 88 counties had an automobile-related industry establishment - together employing more than 107,000 Ohioans. As the industry evolves the state’s economy will depend on manufacturers keeping pace with the change.

Electric vehicles’ market share in the U.S. increased 29% from 2016 to 2017 and 75% from 2017 to 2018. By 2020, most major auto manufacturers will offer electric cars in the states. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), battery costs declined approximately 80% over the past several years, and most analysts expect further declines, bringing EVs to cost-parity for initial purchase by the mid 2020’s. EVs already are cheaper to operate on a cost per mile basis, according to the DOE.

Electric vehicles represent only part of the transportation manufacturing opportunity presented by the changing tides of the automotive sector. Demand for electric vehicle charging equipment as well as batteries will also grow. General Motors has hinted at a 1,000-job battery cell facility in Lordstown. In addition to potential new jobs, over 27,700 Ohio workers are currently building advanced vehicle technology for today’s vehicles at 80 factories and research facilities, according to the Blue Green Alliance.

Former Ohio State football coach and current Youngstown State President Jim Tressel commented, “Lordstown Motors, along with other planned investments in the area and other start-ups, are positioning Northeast Ohio as a hub for technology, which completely reshapes the future trajectory of the whole Mahoning Valley. Think of being in the epicenter of EV technology. We must take charge of our future.”

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