Cleveland, Ohio – A year ago, the future appeared dim in Lordstown, Ohio. General Motor had just announced it would shutter its 52-year-old plant in the state’s northeast corner, cutting the last 1,400 jobs at a facility that employed more than 4,500 in 2016.
However, in the past month, GM sold the Lordstown site to a startup that plans to hire 400 people to make electric pickups starting next year and on Thursday said it would partner with Korean chemicals giant LG Chem to build a $2.3 billion plant for electric vehicle (EV) batteries.
“Ohio and its highly capable workforce will play a key role in our journey toward a world with zero emissions,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Combining our manufacturing expertise with LG Chem’s leading battery-cell technology will help accelerate our pursuit of an all-electric future.”
The new battery plant will be a 50-50 joint venture between GM and LG, and the companies plan to launch it on a new site near the former Cruze plant. There is a large industrial park west of the former GM site and a few other large pieces of property nearby. Construction is set to begin in mid-2020.
GM officials had been hinting at an electric future for the Lordstown area for more than a month. When the company completed the sale of the plant to Lordstown Motors, officials said plans were in the works to bring cell production to the region with at least 1,000 jobs.
When GM completed the Lordstown Motors sale, Village of Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill said he was excited at the prospect of the Mahoning Valley becoming an EV hub.
“This could be something really big. Hopefully, Lordstown Motors is the start of something,” Hill said.
In addition to jointly building battery cells, GM and LG will collaborate on battery development technologies with a goal of reducing cell costs. Batteries are the most expensive components on EVs, making them the biggest barrier to widespread consumer adoption.
“Our joint venture with the No. 1 American automaker will further prepare us for the anticipated growth of the North American EV market, while giving us insights into the broader EV ecosystem,” said LG Chem Vice Chairman & CEO Hak-Cheol Shin.
GM officials say the company will use the Lordstown-built batteries on a wide range of EVs set to hit the market in late 2021, including an electric pickup.
About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of Today's Motor Vehicles and a contributor to Today's Medical Developments and Aerospace Manufacturing and Design. He has written about the automotive industry for more than 19 years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky; and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi.