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UPDATE | U.S. Rep. Ryan said he sees 'tremendous' upside to Lordstown Motors-Foxconn deal

“It sounds like Foxconn wants to make a significant investment here. We’re talking about a lot of jobs that could be created," Ryan told reporters Wednesday, though he couldn't offer specifics about those jobs or their wages.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, speaks to reporters on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, outside the United Auto Workers Local 1112 hall, near the Lordstown Motors Corp. plant, which company executives intend to sell to Taiwanese mega-manufacturer Foxconn.

LORDSTOWN — U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, said he came away from a Wednesday morning meeting with Lordstown Motors Corp. executives feeling confident about the startup’s future and its developing partnership with a Taiwanese mega-manufacturer.

Lordstown Motors last week announced it intends to sell its 6.2-million-square-foot facility to Hon Hai Technology Group of Taiwan, better known as Apple iPhone-maker Foxconn, for $230 million.

Under the tentative agreement, Foxconn would also make a $50 million stock purchase in Lordstown Motors and receive rights to make future vehicles with its hub motor technology. Foxconn partner Fisker Inc. also intends to manufacture its own electric vehicle in the Lordstown plant — as many as 150,000 units a year, Ryan said..

“We’re excited about the opportunity that’s presented now,” he told reporters outside the United Auto Workers Local 1112 hall near the vehicle plant. “It sounds like Foxconn wants to make a significant investment here. We’re talking about a lot of jobs that could be created.

“They want Lordstown to be their electric vehicle hub in America. …. I think it would be smart for us to be a partner and be supportive to the extent that we can,” Ryan continued.

“The upside here is so tremendous to Lordstown Motors, to the whole Mahoning Valley.”

Ryan said it’s too early to tell how many jobs could be created or how many vehicles could be produced out of the former General Motors Lordstown Assembly Complex, which is one of the largest vehicle manufacturing plants in the country. 

Ryan said his office has not yet met with Foxconn executives about the deal and instead will be reaching out “in the coming weeks, when it’s appropriate.” The agreement is expected to be finalized by Oct. 31 and integration at the plant is expected to begin in late April 2022, a Lordstown Motors spokesperson said last week.

Under the agreement, Foxconn would offer employment to “a great number” of Lordstown Motors employees, but not all, that spokesperson said. It’s still unclear how Foxconn would respond to workers organizing, possibly with representation from the UAW Local 1112, which represented the plant’s former GM workers for decades.

Lordstown Motors’ founding CEO Steve Burns — who resigned in June amid investigations into whether he and other executives misled investors about the demand for the company’s all-electric Endurance pickup truck — said unionization would be up to Lordstown Motors workers.

Ryan said current CEO Daniel Ninivaggi, a longtime automotive business executive, has “a long experience with unions in his career” and that Ninivaggi said he is “certainly open to the workers making that decision.”

“Our concern is making sure that the workers are cut in on the deal. This needs to be a win for everybody,” Ryan said, adding that former GM workers’ wages indirectly supported other sectors of the Valley’s economy like retail and hospitality.

“The ripple effect of [the Foxconn deal] could be so amazingly positive.

Analyst cool on Lordstown Motors’ prospects

Lordstown Motors executives in June warned investors that a cash crunch could keep the company from continuing past 2022. During the company's second-quarter earnings call in August, then-head executive Angela Strand said the company was in talks with "multiple [original equipment manufacturers] interested in leveraging the assets we have today,” including the plant.

Lordstown Motors purchased the plant from GM in 2019 for $20 million.

The total $280 million deal with Foxconn could help Lordstown Motors reach mass production of the Endurance — potentially in the second quarter of 2022, Ryan said Wednesday — but a financial analyst estimated the plant’s $230 million price tag is less than 20 percent of what the 6.2-million-square-foot plant along Hallock Young Road is actually worth.

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas on Monday lowered his price target for Lordstown Motors stock (NASDAQ: RIDE) from $8 to $2 and is now recommending investors sell their shares, rather than hold them, Barron’s reported.

Lordstown Motors stock closed Wednesday at $5.07, down 2.5 percent from its Tuesday closing price of $5.20. The stock's 52-week low was $4.77. It began trading in late October 2020.

Justin Dennis

About the Author: Justin Dennis

Justin Dennis has been on the beat since 2011, covering crime, courts and public education. Dennis grew up in Poland and Salem and studied journalism and communications at Cleveland State University and University of Pittsburgh.
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