LORDSTOWN — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine got a preview of Lordstown Motors’ new electric pickup truck Wednesday and liked what he saw in the vehicle and the once abandoned General Motors facility where it will be built.
"Ohio has always been an auto state, an auto parts state," he said. "I think this truck really does have an advantage over its competitors."
DeWine was impressed by how quickly Lordstown Motors, which will formally unveil its Endurance electric-powered pickup truck on Thursday to Vice President Mike Pence, has been able to move into the plant that measures 6.2 million square feet and develop the vehicle.
"This is just absolutely amazing how fast this has happened," he said. "I know for the people of the Mahoning Valley this does not seem to have happened fast enough, but I know the sales they’ve made to fleets … are just absolutely incredible."
Steve Burns, chief executive officer of Lordstown Motors, said the plant currently employs about 70 employees and 100 contractors.
"That’s mostly engineers as we convert the plant," he said. "As we get close to production, we will start to hire line workers and train them how to build electric vehicles."
Burns said he hopes to exceed GM’s average of 400,000 Chevrolet Cruzes produced a year once the plant is well established.
"This is built for one purpose — volume production of vehicles," he said. "They did that with 5,000 employees, and that’s probably close to what we’ll be around in the end.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said he and DeWine learned of GM’s plans to close the plant shortly after their 2018 election.
Now, he believes Lordstown Motors is positioned to compete well in the electric vehicle market.
"The technical innovation can be a game changer in electrical propulsion," he said. "For us, the great news is it’s going to happen in Ohio."
DeWine said he believes the plant will spawn suppliers and other businesses with ties to the plant.
"I think we always underestimate anything having to do with the auto industry,"? he said. "We always underestimate the amount of jobs because the suppliers are always there. The multiplier effect is always huge."
He also said the former GM facility gives both Lordstown Motors and the state of Ohio a leg up on the competition.
"They’re able to walk into this amazing facility and get moving very, very quickly, and it puts us in Ohio at a great advantage," he said.
Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, email@example.com or @bobgaetjens_rc.