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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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 5,626,047 — Total deaths: 351,815 — Total recoveries — 2,314,233Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 1,684,173 — Total deaths: 99,123 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Public health: Fauci says data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine — Nearly half of Americans say someone in their household has delayed medical care.
  4. Tech: Zipline drones deliver masks to hospitals; vaccines could be next
  5. Business: Boeing to lay off 6,770 more U.S. employees.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter ... vs. Trump.
  7. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Live updates: SpaceX to launch historic crewed mission for NASA

The Falcon 9 rocket with a Crew Dragon atop. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX will attempt to launch NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station today.

Why it matters: If all goes well, this launch — expected to happen at 4:33 p.m. ET — will mark the first time a private company has successfully launched people to orbit and the first crewed, orbital rocket launch from the U.S. in 9 years.

Follow along below for live coverage...

Pompeo tells Congress Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Wednesday that he has certified to Congress that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China and does not warrant special treatment under U.S. law.

Why it matters: Revoking Hong Kong's special status would hasten its economic and financial decline, already set in motion by China's growing political grip on the city. The preferential status that the U.S. has long granted Hong Kong has made the city a top U.S. trading partner.

Go deeper (1 min. read)ArrowUpdated 51 mins ago - World