Pence says Workhorse has cash to buy Lordstown plant — GM says he's wrong

But GM says discussions are continuing

COLUMBUS, Ohio — General Motors says U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was incorrect in saying that a fledgling electric vehicle maker and its new affiliated company have secured funding to buy GM’s shuttered Lordstown plant in Ohio.

Pence made the comments Tuesday while visiting Lancaster, Ohio.

GM spokesman Jim Cain tells The Vindicator newspaper in Youngstown that $25 million obtained by Workhorse Group from private investors is not directly related to a sale of the Lordstown plant. Local officials also told the newspaper that they had no idea what Pence was talking about. But two Ohio state senators were quoted by the newspaper as saying they were optimistic after meeting with Workhorse officials on Friday, though one said the Workhorse people "weren't specific" about the financing.

The newspaper reported that Pence’s office and a Workhorse spokesman didn’t immediately respond to follow-up inquiries about the vice president’s claim.

Cain says discussions about the details and conditions of a potential purchase are ongoing between GM, Workhorse and its new affiliated company, "and progress has been made." Cain said the buyer would be that affiliate, not Workhorse. “Everything going on between the three parties is defining what would be sold and under what conditions,” he said.

The Detroit News reported that Steve Burns, founder of Workhorse Group, is so serious about buying the plant that he's naming the affiliated company Lordstown Motors Corp. The News reported he is trying to secure $300 million in funding to convert the plant for production of Workhorse electric pickups and perhaps a new USPS postal delivery truck. If it lands that contract, worth $6.3 billion, it would be building 180,000 mail trucks.

The News quotes Burns in an email as saying, “We are impressed with the Lordstown facility, and we have had great support from Workhorse, our technology partner and strategic partner, as well as General Motors. Our name, Lordstown Motors Corp., reflects the depth of the commitment we will make to the plant, the community and the state of Ohio once this deal is completed. We have started investor outreach, which is the next step toward launching our battery-electric commercial pickup.” 

UAW officials, meanwhile, are continuing to fight GM over the closure, which it says is not allowed under the terms of their collective bargaining agreement.

The plant's fate was sealed when GM announced in 2018 a restructuring involving five plants and thousands of jobs. Since then, workers at the Lordstown plant, which built the Chevy Cruze and had been operating well under capacity, were offered jobs at other facilities where GM is building hot-selling crossovers, SUVs and pickups. The last Cruze rolled off the assembly line in March. The plant's fate was the topic of a recent deep dive in The New York Times and on its TV program "The Weekly."

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