Travis Hester and Jerry Dias at a press conference in Toronto. Associated Press
Under pressure from President Donald Trump, General Motors (GM) said it was in talks to sell an idled northeast Ohio plant to a cash-strapped electric truck-building company.
General Motors Canada president Travis Hester and Unifor union national president Jerry Dias spoke during a press conference in Toronto on Wednesday.
The No. 1 US automaker also said it would invest $700 million in three other plants in Ohio - a state important to Trump’s re-election chances in 2020 - and maintain some operations at a Canadian factory that had been slated to close by year end.
The decisions came after GM faced months of criticism over its plan announced in November to close five North American plants and cut 15,000 jobs. GM’s decision to close the small-car assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, had become fodder for Trump and several Democratic presidential candidates.
Trump, who disclosed GM’s plans for Lordstown in a Wednesday tweet, said the deal with Cincinnati-based Workhorse Group would require the approval of the United Auto Workers union. However, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine expressed caution.
“This is a step, but we have a long way to go,” DeWine told reporters. He also cited Workhorse’s ongoing efforts to win a truck supply contract with the US Postal Service as a key step.
Loveland, Ohio-based Workhorse is a small electric truck and drone startup that has reported losses totaling almost $150 million since its launch in 2007, according to the company’s financial documents. It had just $2.8 million in cash on hand at the end of March and reported first-quarter sales of $364,000.
Workhorse and a newly formed entity, in which Workhorse holds a minority stake, would initially employ “hundreds” at the plant building a commercial electric pickup truck, Workhorse officials said.