“It’s a big day for Lordstown,” Mayor Arno Hill said last week.
The Ohio town of only 4,000 will be home to new automotive startup Lordstown Motors, employing almost 1,000 people. The company’s CEO Steve Burns recently purchased the old GM plant and plans to fill the 6.2-million-square-foot facility quickly.
“We didn’t buy a mass volume plant like this and not plan to fill it up,” Burns said. “This is a gem of a building built for volume manufacturing.”
The news was exciting to Lordstown residents who, over a year ago, watched as GM shut down the plant that had been running since 1966 and employed 12,000 people at its peak. An estimated 60% of Lordstown’s tax revenues were lost as a result.
Lordstown Automotive then bought the plant in November 2019 and are finally getting ready to put their plans into action. The startup plans to build the “Lordstown Endurance”, an all-electric pickup truck and sell it to fleet buyers like utility companies and public works departments. Right now, annual production capacity is at 20,000 trucks. Starting in 2022, the automaker will build other electric vehicles, such as SUVs and mid-size pickup. The plant will eventually employ 5,000 people.
Lordstown Motors’ race to build an electric pickup truck puts the company in the running alongside Tesla, Ford, GM and others. Pickup trucks are the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. and electric vehicles are becoming more desirable to consumers.
“The Mahoning Valley is beginning to become the ‘Voltage Valley,'” said Burns. “We really think this is an opportunity to claim that the Midwest is where vehicles should be made. We can’t let California have all the fun.”