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Lordstown Motors CEO assembling staff

LORDSTOWN — The man who wants to bring a battery-powered electric pickup truck production line to the idled General Motors assembly plant is assembling an executive team as he continues to negotiate with GM to buy the complex.

Those talks, Lordstown Motors Corp. CEO Steve Burns said recently in Warren, have become a bit more complex as GM and United Auto Workers negotiate a new labor contract in the middle of a 4-week-old UAW strike against the automaker.

But he said Sept. 24 he fully expects to seal the deal and make Lordstown the headquarters for Lordstown Motors. He envisions the facility to be full production and also be home to battery cell manufacturing.

The Detroit News reported Lordstown Motors’ latest addition is Rich Schmidt as chief production officer, a title that’s reflected on his LinkedIn page. He came to the company in September from RS Global Consulting LLC in Tennessee, which he founded in June 2016.

Schmidt worked as director of manufacturing for Tesla Motors from December 2012 to June 2016 and in other capacities with Volkswagon, Hyundai, Nissan and Toyota.

Lordstown Motors on LinkedIn also shows the company added John LaFleur as chief operating officer in June and Julio Rodriguez as chief financial officer in September.

Both men have ties to Cincinnati-based Workhorse Group LLC, an electric truck and technology company Burns founded. Workhorse is a minority stakeholder in Lordstown Motors.

Rodriguez lists himself on LinkedIn as Workhorse’s chief information officer, a position he’s held since August 2017, but he’s been with the company since August 2013, including four years as chief financial officer.

LaFleur was vice president of vehicle programs at Workhorse for nearly three years beginning in September 2016, according to his profile.

Workhorse would own about a 10 percent stake in Lordstown Motors, which would license from Workhorse its technology to build the pickup based on the Workhorse W-15 truck.

Workhorse is also on the short list of four companies seeking to land a multibillion contract with the U.S. Postal Service for electric delivery vans. Landing that might translate into the vans being produced in Lordstown, Burns said last month.

Burns could not be reached to comment.

He said last month that he is sticking to his ambitious timetable to launch production in late 2020 and hopes to have prototype trucks in testing by mid-June 2020, assuming he successfully strikes a deal with GM for the massive plant.

But before that can happen, GM and the UAW must come to a new agreement and the union must agree the plant can be sold off.

Also, it’s estimated Burns needs to raise about $300 million to purchase and repurpose the plant, which he said in September is a “marvelous building.”

He told the Detroit newspaper the first vehicle would be a full-size commercial pickup truck named Endurance for the “the endurance of the people who are building it and the endurance of the truck itself.”

He said the truck gets 250 miles on one charge.

Burns declined to comment in September on how many workers the plant might employ and did the same to the Detroit News on Tuesday.

rselak@tritboday.com

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