At G.M., a ‘Sense of Optimism, Not Despair’
The view from Detroit: “It is true that compact car sales have declined across the industry. But a lot of things are going right in this country and at G.M.”
To the Editor:
Your coverage of General Motors, the end of Chevrolet Cruze production and the possible sale of our Lordstown (Ohio) Complex has been extensive. What has been missing is any sense of optimism.
It is true that compact car sales have declined across the industry. But a lot of things are going right in this country and at G.M. The economy is robust and at full employment; demand for G.M.’s trucks and crossovers is strong; there are thousands of well-paying G.M. jobs available at other plants; and there is a prospective buyer for the Lordstown plant that wants to build electric pickup trucks in partnership with the United Auto Workers.
Yet you seem fixated on seeding doubt and despair with its unrelenting focus on a select few people (Sunday Magazine, May 5), national politics (front page, May 28) and risks (Business Day, May 29).
We don’t dismiss the personal challenges our Lordstown employees face. But like other G.M. hourly employees, they have the opportunity to relocate to plants in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky and other states to maintain their jobs, which can pay more than $100,000 a year, including the most generous profit-sharing plan in the auto industry.
So far, close to 850 people have accepted offers to relocate to another G.M. facility, while others are retiring with their pensions or leaving G.M. to take new jobs closer to home. Some employees continue to take a wait-and-see approach.
With the end of Cruze production, a sale of the plant to a new company affiliated with Workhorse Group is the best opportunity we have found to keep vehicle production at the site — a conclusion we reached after reviewing proposals from multiple interested parties.
Why Workhorse? Because it is better positioned than most electric vehicle start-ups, with hundreds of battery electric trucks on the road, satisfied customers and a substantial order backlog. Workhouse is using this expertise to back a new start-up that plans to buy the Lordstown plant with support from investors and the U.A.W.
If talks this summer between the parties are successful, it will put Workhorse at the center of a new and potentially lucrative growth market — commercial electric trucks — as you reported in June 2018.
But you are overly focused on Workhorse’s need for capital. A start-up that loses money and consumes capital for some period? That’s hardly man-bites-dog material, but it is an easy story to write since Workhorse is a public company and its results are open for public inspection, unlike most of its peers. Editors’ Picks My Husband Wore Really Tight Shorts to the Eclipse Party 25 Writers on Their Favorite Beach Vacations Why 1999 Was Hollywood’s Greatest Year
Workhorse has been ahead of its time. Now, the momentum of an all-electric future is catching up to it, and it is positioning itself for the future.
Without a doubt, there is more work that needs to be done to take care of our people and to complete the Lordstown sale, but there is a significant opportunity for the local community and Ohio to be at the forefront of tomorrow. This should drive a sense of optimism, not despair.
Tony Cervone Detroit The writer is senior vice president for global communications at General Motors.
Read the full article.