LORDSTOWN – New legislation specific to Lordstown Motors Corp. would allow the successful manufacturer to sell its electric truck, the Endurance, directly to fleet customers.
Ohio law does not generally allow direct sales of vehicles, but a measure introduced by Republican lawmakers Mike Loychik of Bazetta and Michael Rulli of Salem excludes an exemption allowing Lordstown Motors to bypass the traditional dealer system.
“The genesis behind this is the Ohio built, the strong Ohio, the Ohio Endurance,” Rulli said at a press conference Wednesday at the Statehouse in Columbus.
Lordstown Motors’ general counsel Thomas Canepa said the trucks would be sold in batches to customers purchasing for fleet use. The fleets have teams of mechanics and repair regimes, Canepa said, which explains this business model.
The vehicles will not be available for purchase by consumers for a few years as the company focuses on meeting business demand, ranging from utilities, municipalities to utility companies.
The proposed exclusion would not hamper car dealerships, supporters of the legislation said, as Lordstown Motors does not have a dealer network.
“Our model doesn’t work for the traditional partnership with franchise dealers, so this tight legislation just allows us to sell our fleet-focused, Ohio-made vehicles in Ohio,” Canepa said.
There are rules in Ohio on how vehicles are sold, Loychik said. But he said electric vehicles “are different”; therefore, different sales models are needed.
The legislation proposed Wednesday “applies very specifically to sales of electric vehicles in Ohio,” Loychik said.
Zach Doran, president of the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association, issued a statement on behalf of the state’s independent new car and truck dealerships.
“We look forward to working with the General Assembly to ensure a thorough understanding of the economic, consumer and community benefits of Ohio’s long-standing system of independent and local dealerships for new cars and trucks,” said Doran.
Other major automakers, such as Honda, Ford, Chrysler, and GM, are “operating successfully in” Ohio, and “investing heavily in the development and production of electric vehicles” which will continue to be sold by dealers. independent automobiles, Doran said.
Rulli said the legislation narrowly targets Lordstown Motors based on the language of the Ohio-owned, Ohio-made product. He said he wanted the dealership association to be at the table all the time during the conversation about the bill.
Lawmakers in 2014 granted an exemption to electric vehicle maker Tesla to sell directly to consumers, but with the caveat, the company operates three dealerships in Ohio.
If the legislation crashes, Lordstown Motors could sell directly to consumers in another state, said Chris Kerzich, director of government relations and corporate affairs for Lordstown Motors. There are 17 to 19 in the United States that allow it, Rulli said, but this route means Ohio would lose millions in taxes.
The Endurance will be the first electric pickup truck manufactured and sold in the United States. Lordstown Motors, which bought and retools the former General Motors assembly plant in Lordstown to manufacture Endurance, plans to start production in September.
The company has received more than 100,000 non-binding reservations for the truck, with the sticker price of $ 45,000 after a federal rebate.
Steve Burns, CEO of Lordstown Motors, said via pre-recorded video that 500 employees are currently working at the plant and that in September 1,000 more jobs will be added when the vehicles go into production.
Canepa relied on this statistic by saying that with every job added at the plant, another seven to eight jobs are created.
Throughout the conference, officials referred to the Mahoning Valley, often referred to as the Rust Belt, as a “valley of tension.”
Burns was unable to attend the conference in Columbus due to robotic welding performed on the Endurance. “It’s a big step forward in bringing it to life,” he said in the video.
Almost $ 450 million has been invested in the plant, Canepa said.
Lordstown Motors Corp., founded by Burns, owns the 6.2 million square foot 785 acre, 6.2 million square foot Lordstown Assembly Plant in Lordstown, formerly run by General Motors.
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