A Xmas Miracle? Ohio’s gov asks Elon Musk to rescue GM car assembly plant
On December 18, outgoing Ohio governor John Kasich sent a tweet to Elon Musk asking him to consider taking over the 53 year old Lordstown assembly plant from General Motors. Tesla’s current factory in Fremont, California, is a former GM plant and has worked out fairly well for the company. He quickly got a tweet back from Musk.
Thanks, will consider next year
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 20, 2018
Some people considered Elon’s response to be disrespectful, but in truth, the company is pulling out all stops to deliver as many Model 3s as possible before the end of the year, and that is the primary focus at present. (Well, that and fart jokes.) And the new year is only a few days away at this point.
The decision by General Motors to shutter the Lordstown plant has caused a great deal of consternation in Ohio. People are angry that the company, which is sitting on billions of dollars in cash, is closing what many consider one of the flagship manufacturing plants of the American auto industry. Local newspaper The Vindicator says, “We remain unwavering in our contention that GM owes its Lordstown workers another product — not only because J.D. Power ranked the plant as GM’s best in the United States, Canada and Mexico for quality, but because labor and management have forged a partnership that is the template for all auto manufacturing facilities.”
Both Ohio senators — Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman — wrote an op-ed piece together recently in which they said, “We want answers, but the people of Lordstown deserve more than that. They deserve the opportunity to once again show what they can do. They deserve the chance to make cars in the community many of them have called home for their entire lives, and to be treated with respect and dignity they have earned through the region’s decades-long commitment to GM.”
Whether Tesla is interested in taking over Lordstown or any of the other factories GM intends to shut down in coming months remains to be seen. Many industry observers question whether Tesla, which is staunchly anti-union, would consider taking over a facility where the United Auto Workers (UAW) have represented the work force for generations. There’s a reason why foreign manufacturers like Volkswagen, Mercedes, BMW, and Nissan prefer factories in the South, where anti-union animus is strong.
Tesla is also deep into completing its Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, while working flat out to get Gigafactory 3 built and into operation in Shanghai. It is also considering constructing a European factory soon. The Model 3 is enjoying strong sales success but will demand continue in the years to come? Tesla obviously thinks so, but not everyone is convinced the company will be able to find enough ready, willing, and able buyers for all the Model 3s it plans to manufacture after the initial surge in orders is met.
The wild card in all this is the amount of economic incentives Ohio might be willing to offer in order to entice Tesla to the Mahoning Valley. Nevada secured Gigafactory 1 because it offered the biggest incentive package, and so far Tesla has exceeded that state’s expectations in every category.
Tesla needs more manufacturing space for its upcoming Semi electric truck, Model Y electric crossover, and second-generation Roadster. To date, the company has said nothing about manufacturing anywhere in the US other than California. But the recent announcement by GM that it was closing 6 North American factories came as a surprise to many. Has a window of opportunity opened for Tesla? “We’ll see,” said the Zen Master.