Sat. 4 p.m.: Potential sale of GM Lordstown plant clouded with doubt

FILE - In this Dec. 5, 2018 file photo, hundreds of Chevrolet Cruze cars sit in a parking lot at General Motors' assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio. A potential deal to sell the shuttered General Motors plant is still leaving the factory with an uncertain future. In May 2019, GM confirmed that it’s negotiating the sale of the massive assembly plant. (Andrew Rush/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP, File)

LORDSTOWN – The fate of the shuttered General Motors Lordstown plant remains very much up in the air even after a tweet from President Donald Trump heralded the potential sale of a factory he has shown an intense interest in saving.

That’s because the buyer is a fledgling electric vehicle maker that has never posted a profit, has only about 100 employees and warned this year that it might not have enough money to stay in business.

What the potential deal does signal is the likely end of a half-century of car manufacturing for GM at its factory here and continued uncertainty for a battered Rust Belt community that has seen plenty of empty promises.

GM confirmed this week that it’s negotiating the sale of its massive Lordstown assembly plant, where production ended in March as part of a major restructuring for the automaker.

Cincinnati-based Workhorse Group intends to make a commercial electric pickup truck at the facility. Its only production plant is in Union City, Indiana, where it has built about 400 delivery trucks.

It has started supplying UPS with electric vehicles and is one of five companies competing to land a $6 billion contract to make a new generation of mail trucks for the U.S. Postal Service.

But there are major questions about its financial footing.

Workhorse has poured most of its money into research and development, with limited sales, losing $36.5 million last year. It warned in its most recent quarterly filing that it didn’t have enough money to pay for its operations through the first half of this year and needed additional financing to stay afloat.

But the publicly traded company, whose stock soared after Trump’s tweet, also said it believes it can raise enough money to keep going.

Still, it doesn’t yet appear to have backing like one of its competitors, Rivian, which just got a $500 million investment from Ford to develop a new electric vehicle.

For the complete story on the possible sale of GM-Lordstown, read Sunday’s Tribune Chronicle.