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What Cincinnati CEO Will Do If He Buys GM Lordstown

Workhorse first unveiled its electric pick-up truck at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show.
Workhorse first unveiled its electric pick-up truck at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show.

Steve Burns is a man of big ideas. In December 2017 he proudly showed off Workhorse's electric pick-up truck to WVXU, was perfecting drone delivery off the company's electric delivery trucks and touted his personal flying machine. Now he is planning to buy the GM Lordstown plant.

Burns, the former CEO of Workhorse now heading up a yet unnamed company, is in negotiations to buy the shuttered GM plant. He has pledged to hire hundreds of laid-off UAW workers if he can reach a deal with the union.

The company would make electric pick-up trucks for fleets at the plant and already has a total of 6,000 orders from Duke Energy, Ryder, the City of Orlando and others. "Pick-up trucks are the No. 1 vehicle in the country and a large percentage of those are sold to fleets and there is not an electric pick-up truck on the market," Burns says.

These would be "rugged, no frills, utilitarian, get-the-job-done work trucks."

Workhorse is one of five finalists to make an electric vehicle for the U.S. Postal Service. Fox News reports the Post Office will decide later this year who will get the $6 billion deal. If Workhorse gets the contract, Burns says three shifts a day at Lordstown would be needed to manufacture them.


Burns also won't rule out making SureFly personal electric helicopters in Lordstown. He says the pick-up trucks and the SureFly use some of the same parts and materials. "If we have them for the pick-up trucks, it might make sense to make the helicopters there as well, but that hasn't been determined."

Workhorse makes electric delivery trucks at the former Navistar plant in Union City, Indiana. Burns also won't rule out moving some of that production to Lordstown. "There are a lot of synergies there. If we build up Lordstown to make electric vehicles at scale, we hope to do a lot of things with Workhorse and other companies."

Burns expects negotiations with GM to buy the plant to take months.

Copyright 2021 91.7 WVXU. To see more, visit 91.7 WVXU.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.