LORDSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Hope has been running low around the Valley about Lordstown Motors, but there appears to be another rainbow on the horizon — a reported deal for Lordstown Motors to sell the factory to Foxconn.
Foxconn is the world’s largest electronics manufacturer. It makes the iPhones in China that get shipped to America, and because of that, the company has a lot of money.
“I see this opportunity as them diversifying our job market here in the automotive-centric area with respect to making electric cars, and that can diversify this entire area with technology,” said Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti.
Foxconn seems to want more than just assembling the iPhone. Earlier this year, the company signed an agreement with Fisker to make an electric car for under $30,000 and start building it within two years. There’s hope it could be in Lordstown.
“Then that could be the opportunity for additional suppliers to want to be in this market or to create additional supply chain opportunities for companies currently in our market,” said Regional Chamber President Guy Coviello.
The biggest problem for Lordstown Motors has been funding. It has the facility, it has the design and it has prototypes. It’s so close and a deal could recharge the situation.
“I would insist that any buyer, regardless of nationality, regardless of who they are, that they disclose who they are and what they are and what their history is and what their intent is,” said Senator Sherrod Brown.
“They just need some way to get it to the finish line. Foxconn may be that answer,” said Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill.
“I think it really stabilizes the situation out there in terms of building an Endurance vehicle, as well as the potential of other vehicles,” Coviello said.
We talked with an auto analyst today who said the electric vehicle revolution is not going to move as fast as many thought. He said the real question about Lordstown Motors is how competitive their product will be.
Local leaders are already expressing hopeful, if cautious, optimism. Even before we knew whether or not the stories were true, their reaction was quick.
“My hope is that this is positive news for the plant and the workers,” said Senator Rob Portman.
“I would welcome them, especially if it’s a union shop, but I think it’s important we put people back to work building the way they used to,” Brown said.
“Now somebody’s coming in with a lot of money, and when you have a lot of money, you can really start producing a product,” Traficanti said.
Portman said he recently spoke with Lordstown Motors executives and came away encouraged.
“It seems like this new CEO had a plan to be able to ensure that we can keep the plant open and even expand into other areas. So my hope is that that is part of this process,” Portman said.
In the meantime, Brown said he just wants to see automobiles built in the Valley again.
“What we should never forget is that workers in the Valley know how to build cars. They’ve done it for two generations, depending on how you count it, maybe three generations of workers,” Brown said.
For now, we wait to learn more about the future of Lordstown Motors.