General Motors will invest in its DMAX factory in Moraine and two other Ohio plants as it engages in talks to sell its Lordstown complex to a Loveland-based producer of electric trucks, the automaker and others announced Wednesday.
A hoped-for 450 new Ohio jobs “is certainly good news,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said.
GM announced manufacturing investments in Ohio totaling some $700 million, expanding operations in Moraine, Toledo and Parma, creating approximately 450 new manufacturing jobs.
Some of those new jobs and a portion of that investment will go to the DMAX plant off Dryden Road in Moraine, GM spokesman Dan Flores said. He declined to precisely break down how the investment will be made, but he said that most of the new jobs will go to the Toledo plant.
GM said it is expanding diesel engine production at DMAX for all-new heavy-duty pickups, which go on sale later this year. GM is the 60 percent owner of the DMAX diesel heavy-duty truck engine business, with Japanese truck maker Isuzu holding the 40 percent position.
Flores said Moraine-built DMAX engines will be an option for the new, refreshed GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado.
The Dryden Road plant has 670 hourly workers and nearly 130 salaried workers today, according to GM.
Toledo Transmission will expand production of the company’s new 10-speed automatic transmission for trucks and SUVs. And the Parma Metal Center will expand production of stamped parts and deploy laser cell welding technology, GM also said.
Regarding Lordstown, DeWine said it is too soon to celebrate news about a possible rejuvenation of the plant, but he expressed guarded optimism.
A truck production contract between Loveland’s Workhorse Group Inc. and the U.S. Postal Service is a key to making a deal happen in Lordstown, as are talks with the United Auto Workers (UAW), which represented GM workers in Lordstown and is suing GM for a new vehicle to produce.
“This is a step, but we have a long way to go, and things have to fall in place,” DeWine said.
The UAW must “make a decision about which way they want to go with regard to this,” DeWine also said.
The UAW said it is holding fast to its position that GM should assign a vehicle for regular production to Lordstown.
“A federal lawsuit filed by the UAW over the closing of the Lordstown, Baltimore and Warren facilities is still pending, and the UAW will continue its effort to protect the contractual rights of its members at these locations,” the union said in a release.
Workhorse Group Inc., the possible buyer of the Lordstown plant, makes electric pickups and drone software, according to its website.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted praised Workhorse, saying he first visited the company “a long time ago.”
“We will be as aggressive as we can be to make sure we are playing our role,” Husted said.
But he echoed DeWine’s caution, saying, “There are a lot of things that have to happen before we actually call it a victory.”
DeWine and Husted hastily called a news conference after President Donald Trump tweeted on the matter mid-day Wednesday.
“GREAT NEWS FOR OHIO!,” Trump tweeted. “Just spoke to Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, who informed me that, subject to a UAW agreement etc., GM will be selling their beautiful Lordstown Plant to Workhorse, where they plan to build Electric Trucks. GM will also be spending $700,000,000 in Ohio…”
A second tweet added: “….in 3 separate locations, creating another 450 jobs. I have been working nicely with GM to get this done. Thank you to Mary B, your GREAT Governor, and Senator Rob Portman. With all the car companies coming back, and much more, THE USA IS BOOMING!”
“We remain committed to growing manufacturing jobs in the U.S., including in Ohio, and we see this development as a potential win-win for everyone,” Mary Barra, GM chairman and CEO, said Wednesday. “Workhorse has innovative technologies that could help preserve Lordstown’s more than 50-year tradition of vehicle assembly work.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown said Trump’s tweet was the first he had heard of a possible deal.
“We saw the tweet, but you can’t cash a tweet,” he said, saying workers “need paychecks.”
Brown said Trump’s tweet raised “high expectations about how many jobs may be created…we want to know where they are and how much they will pay. We don’t know any more than you do at this point.”
GM announced last year that it would shutter or otherwise divert from future production five North American plants, including the Lordstown plant.
Today, full-size trucks and SUVs are ascendant, and the Lordstown plant has been doomed by weak demand for sedans — such as the Lordstown-produced Chevrolet Cruze.
Industrywide, compact cars make up less than 10 percent of the market, GM spokesman James Cain said.
A message seeking comment was left for leaders of IUE-CWA Local 775, the unit which represents hundreds of workers at the DMAX plant, off Dryden Road.
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