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Former GM factory will get new lease on life building electric trucks

An Ohio factory cast aside by General Motors in a recent round of cutbacks will be resurrected to build electric trucks. The GM factory in Lordstown, Ohio, has been acquired by Lordstown Motors Corporation (LMC), a new startup formed specifically to save the factory for truck production. LMC plans to launch an electric pickup truck called the Endurance in late 2020, but little else is known about the project.

LMC has close ties to Ohio-based Workhorse Group, which previously tried to buy the Lordstown factory from GM. Workhorse founder Steve Burns is LMC’s CEO, and the startup will license technology for its truck from Workhorse. LMC will also acquire the 6,000 pre-orders Workhorse has accumulated for its W-15 plug-in hybrid pickup truck. Workhorse currently builds electric delivery vans that can be paired with drones, and also developed a small electric aircraft called the SureFly, which was later spun off into a separate business.

Like the Workhorse W-15, the LMC Endurance will be built for fleets, rather than retail sales. The Endurance will be powered by four electric motors — one mounted in each wheel hub. Operators will also be able to plug tools into the truck, negating the need for portable generators at job sites, according to LMC.

The Lordstown factory previously built the Chevrolet Cruze compact car, but was shut down when the last Cruze rolled off the assembly line in March. GM is cutting most cars from its lineup due to slow sales, but it also elected not to assign a new model to Lordstown, preferring to shutter the plant to save money. The successful acquisition by LMC could preserve jobs, helping GM save face. While the automaker has added jobs at other Ohio facilities in recent months, GM has been criticized for cutting jobs at Lordstown and other North American factories.

GM has said the cutbacks will allow it to reinvest money in new technologies — including electrification. The automaker has confirmed plans for its own electric pickup truck. A recent report also claims GM will revive Hummer with electric powertrains. GM has said it will launch 20 new electric models by 2023.

Other companies are planning electric trucks as well. Tesla will finally unveil its much-teased electric truck — now dubbed “Cybertruck” — on November 21. Startup Rivian is working on a luxury model, while Bollinger Motors is planning something more basic. Ford is planning an electric version of its F-150 — currently the bestselling vehicle in the United States.

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