Pence: Lordstown Motors Is a ‘Transition to Greatness’
LORDSTOWN, Ohio — Standing in front of the newly launched Endurance all-electric pickup truck, Vice President Mike Pence called the vehicle and the establishment of Lordstown Motors Corp. a “tribute to a half century of craftsmanship, a half century of integrity” and a reputation that has drawn the investment to the community.
Pence’s remarks came during a 20-minute speech at the launch of the Endurance at Lordstown Motors’ production plant in the former GM Lordstown assembly plant. Following a brief tour of the plant, Pence and the company’s CEO, Steve Burns, were driven to the stage in one of the new electric vehicles.
Much of the vice president’s speech reflected on the past three years of Donald Trump’s presidency, from the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to the creation of the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement.
“We put China on notice that the era of economic surrender is over,” Pence told those gathered at Lorstown Motors. “In a few weeks, NAFTA is gone and the USMCA will soon be the law of the land.”
Under USMCA, 75% of all automotive parts must be made in North America and 40% of parts must be made by workers making an hourly wage at about the average hourly wage of workers in the United States, according to Pence.
“We’re going to keep automotive jobs growing right here in Ohio and right here across the United States,” Pence said.
Lordstown Motors’ Burns advised Pence that the company has already presold some 14,000 Endurance pickup trucks, and that the company looks to hire 500 to 800 workers, driving a “transition to greatness” after the closure of GM Lordstown.
Pence called the plant closure in March 2019 heartbreaking, but commended the Lordstown community and the Mahoning Valley as “the perfect example of the resiliency and faith” that are driving Lordstown Motors.
During the tour, Pence says he met with the engineers that designed the vehicle and team responsible for retooling the plant, which he said will continue the area’s tradition of “world-class” automotive manufacturing.
“Thanks to the resilience of this community, thanks to the innovation represented here today, once again Lordstown is going to be back big time in the making things business,” Pence said. “And you’re going to make history right here at Lordstown Motors. I believe it with all my heart.”
Leading up to Pence’s remarks, those in attendance heard from Lordstown Motors Corp. CEO Steve Burns, Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel and Goodyear’s director of new ventures, Erin Spring.
Tressel complimented Burns on putting together an experienced “team of real champions” to help get the plant where it needs to be to produce the Endurance.
The plant was what attracted Lordstown Motors to the area, Burns said. With thousands of industrial robots and on-site painting and stamping capabilities, Lordstown Motors asked GM to leave the building intact after they left.
“It was a big ask, but they did it,” Burns said.
Now, Lordstown Motors doesn’t have to build a plant from scratch and populate it with robots – just reconfigure it for production of the Endurance, he said. “That’s what we’re doing and it’s going great.”
As much as the factory attracted Lordstown Motors, the workforce was also part of that decision, Burns said, touting the workers’ toughness, skill set and work ethic. As production ramps up at Lordstown Motors, Burns is hopeful that each job created will in turn create eight ancillary jobs, including suppliers and the restaurants and hotels that support the workers, he said.
And while many expect electric vehicle innovation to come from the coasts, Burns asks, “Why should California have all the fun?
“The Midwest is where cars are made, and the Midwest happens to be where most pickup trucks are sold,” Burns said. “We think our people can do the same or even better.”
Secretary of Energy Brouillette agreed, saying the tour of Lordstown Motors was “a pleasure to see American ingenuity at work
“What impresses me even more than the technology that went into the truck is the ingenuity and the vision that we have here in this room,” Brouillette said. “Where other people saw a closed plant – the literal end of the line – you saw an opportunity.”
At the federal level, Brouillette said the Trump Administration is working to drive the potential of energy storage and address the “acute supply chain vulnerability” with regard to the import of critical minerals and rare Earth elements, he said. The Department of Energy is eyeing the potential of extracting such minerals and elements from coal reserves in Appalachia, which he says could produce five tons of such materials.
“We have a wide open road ahead of us,” he said. “So let’s take that highway, let’s build that bright future right here in Lordstown, throughout the Voltage Valley and all across our great nation.”
- June 24: DeWine Predicts Exciting Reaction to Lordstown Motors Reveal
- June 24: DeWine: Ohio ‘Not Actively Pursuing’ $60M Clawback from GM for Lordstown Closure
- June 24: Ryan Urges Support from Pence for EV Initiatives
- June 22: Pence to Visit Lordstown Motors for Endurance Launch
Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.