Electric vehicle startup to unveil truck at former GM Ohio auto plant

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lordstown Motors Corp will show off its planned electric pickup truck at an event on Thursday as the startup seeks to begin producing vehicles at a former General Motors factory in northeast Ohio.

Lordstown Motors, which hopes to start delivering the electric pickup to customers by January 2021 and is still working to raise additional capital, will face significant competition from other automakers.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette will attend the event featuring the pre-production vehicle on Thursday in the politically important state of Ohio.

“Ohio has always been an auto state, an auto parts state… and really this is the future,” Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said of Lordstown Motors’ “Endurance” electric truck on Wednesday.

The fate of the sprawling GM plant became a political lightning rod after the largest U.S. automaker announced its planned closure in November 2018, drawing condemnation from U.S. President Donald Trump and many U.S. lawmakers.

As recently as 2016, the GM plant employed 4,500 workers and its March 2019 closure was devastating to the area.

Lordstown Motors, which is 10% owned by Workhorse Group Inc, bought the former GM plant and equipment for $20 million as part of its ambitious plan to begin delivering electric pickup trucks to customers by year end – a goal which has since been delayed to January.

The startup currently has 70 employees and about 100 contractors. Other firms are also preparing to enter the electric truck sector.

GM plans to build its first electric pickup truck in 2021. Tesla Inc plans to start building its electric Cybertruck in 2021, while Nikola Corp plans to build an electric truck by 2022.

Electric vehicle startup Rivian plans to build an electric pickup truck starting in late 2020, while Ford Motor Co will introduce an electric F-150 truck in 2022.

In December, GM and South Korea’s LG Chem said they would invest $2.3 billion to build an electric vehicle battery cell joint venture plant near the Lordstown plant.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa

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