May 9, 2019 - Energy & Environment

GM's Lordstown announcement shakes up the electric pickup truck race

In this image, a wooden sign in a field reads "Save the GM plant"

Handmade sign in Lordstown, Ohio. Photo: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

GM's plan to sell its shuttered Lordstown, Ohio, plant to the Workhorse Group, an electric truck company, would remove a political headache for GM and is already bringing new prominence to the little-known buyer.

Driving the news: GM is in talks with Workhorse and an affiliated party to "bring significant production and electric vehicle assembly jobs to the plant."

Why it matters for EVs: The popularity of pickups makes them a potentially huge market for electric models.

  • Wednesday's news is the latest development in the intensifying race to push electric pickups into the mainstream, for both commercial use — which is Workhorse's focus — and personal vehicles.

What's happening: Other recent developments in this race include:

  • Amazon and Ford both recently invested in Rivian, which is developing an electric pickup and other vehicles, and Ford also has separate plans to electrify the popular F-150 on its own.
  • GM's own broad electrification strategy includes full size pickups, CEO Mary Barra said in late April.
  • Tesla is also working on an electric pickup design.

The big picture: The sale is likely to help ease political pressure on GM, which has been under fire over the restructuring announced in late 2018 that included layoffs.

  • GM also said it's investing $700 million to expand operations in 3 other Ohio locations. The news emerged when GM-critic President Trump, citing a call with Barra, tweeted about it.
  • It's also a major lift for Workhorse, which saw its stock soar by 215% (and it's still rising in pre-market trading).

What's next: “The first vehicle we would plan to build if we were to purchase the Lordstown Complex would be a commercial electric pickup, blending Workhorse’s technology with Lordstown’s manufacturing expertise," Workhorse co-founder Steve Burns said in a statement.

Go deeper: The Vindicator, an Ohio newspaper, has much more here.

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