May 9, 2019

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

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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Clyburn: Sanders' "socialist" label will be "extra burden" in House races

Clyburn with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that Sen. Bernie Sanders' identification as a democratic socialist may be an "extra burden" in down-ballot House races if he were to win the Democratic nomination.

Why it matters: Clyburn's comments echo fears from many establishment Democrats, who worry the House majority they won in 2018 by taking moderate seats carried by President Trump could be at risk with Sanders at the top of the ticket.

O'Brien rejects intelligence report of Russia effort to re-elect Trump

National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien. Photo: Chris Usher/CBS via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien repeatedly rejected on ABC's "This Week" an assessment from a congressional briefing led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to help President Trump get re-elected.

Why it matters: The report put the Trump administration under fresh scrutiny in regard to steps it has been taking to combat the kind of interference that the U.S. encountered in 2016.

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Italy becomes site of largest coronavirus outbreak outside of Asia

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus has spread to more nations as South Korea and Italy step up emergency measures in their countries amid rising case numbers on Sunday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed at least 2,462 people and infected almost 79,000 others, mostly in mainland China. South Korea increased the infectious disease alert to red, the highest possible, as its case numbers jumped to 602 and the death toll to five. Italy's government announced emergency measures as it confirmed a spike from three to 132 cases in matter of days, making it the largest outbreak outside of Asia.

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