Ryan Upbeat about Lordstown Motors-Foxconn Deal

LORDSTOWN, Ohio — U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13, says he’s enthusiastic about a proposed agreement to sell Lordstown Motors Corp.’s plant to Taiwan-based Foxconn, calling it an opportunity to establish a North American electric vehicle innovation and technology hub in the Mahoning Valley.

“There’s a tremendous upside here for everybody,” Ryan said after he met with Lordstown Motors CEO Daniel Ninivaggi and other company executives Wednesday at the plant. “The opportunities for our workforce and our businesses here, the supply chain that can benefit from this can be absolutely huge.”

Last week, Lordstown Motors announced it had reached an agreement in principle to sell its Lordstown manufacturing plant to Hon Hai Precision Technology, better known as Foxconn, for $230 million.

The deal would purportedly include Foxconn acting as a contract manufacturer to build the Endurance, Lordstown Motors’ first all-electric pickup truck, and future models the company produces. It does not include certain intellectual property, such as the wheel-hub technology used in the pickup.

Foxconn would also purchase up to $50 million in Lordstown stock under the proposed deal.

“It’s never official until it’s official, but I do think that they’re motivated to go into the electric vehicle market,” Ryan says of Foxconn. “This needs to be the electric vehicle hub for North America.”

He says he believes Foxconn has a genuine interest in investing and modernizing the plant, which until 2019 was owned by General Motors and produced the Chevrolet Cruze.

“They’ve got a lot of cash and they want to invest it and modernize this plant and be a player in the EV world,” he says. “They’re going to make this their North American hub. They’re going to make a significant investment.”

Just how much of an investment won’t be known until more details are released, Ryan said, which should come over the next several weeks or months.

Ryan noted that it’s unrealistic to expect the 6.2 million-square-foot-plant would employ the 13,000 or so workers that it did during the 1970s and 1980s when GM operated the complex.

However, the congressman said that the deal “could have a significant impact on jobs,” noting that Lordstown Motors already employs about 600 – 400 of which are working in the plant producing the Endurance.

The congressman said there’s probably no other sector of the industrial economy that fits the Mahoning Valley better than electric-vehicle manufacturing.

“We’ve been through a lot of hurt and pain,” Ryan said, reflecting on the economic hardship visited upon the Mahoning Valley over the last 40 years. “Sometimes you’ve got to let that stuff go and look clearly at the moment that we’re in now.”

Ryan said he took test rides in both the Endurance and a Baja military vehicle that the company plans to manufacture in the future.

Ryan is also optimistic about Foxconn’s relationship with Fisker Inc., an electric-vehicle manufacturer based in California that wants to produce vehicles from the Lordstown plant. “They’re looking to produce 100,000 to 150,000 cars a year,” he said. “We’re talking about significant job creation.”

What sold Foxconn on the Lordstown plant was its location, the community, the workforce, and the team at Lordstown Motors, Ninivaggi told The Business Journal Sept. 30, the day of the announcement.

“I think it’s very positive for the community,” he said. “It was a huge factor in Foxconn’s decision to locate production in Ohio.”

Ryan said he believed that workers hired at the plant would be treated fairly, and sees this as an opportunity for companies to showcase better employer-employee relations.

“Workers want to get a little piece of the action, and I think we can help make that happen,” Ryan said.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.