LORDSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – When General Motors announced Monday that over the next six years, it plans to build 20 new all-electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, people had to wonder if those vehicles would be made at Lordstown.
United Auto Workers Local 1112 President Glenn Johnson, who represents workers at Lordstown, said, “There’s been no talk of any [electric] platform here at Lordstown, not that we wouldn’t be open to that discussion. They have to make them somewhere.”
Doug Sweeney is the owner of one of the area’s largest GM dealerships — Sweeney Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC in Boardman.
He’s a third-generation auto dealership owner. The Sweeney family has been selling cars and trucks for 96 years.
They have the Chevy Volt — a hybrid powered by both gas and electric — on the lot. But the all-electric Chevy Bolt is where General Motors is heading.
“We don’t have them yet. They start on the East and West coasts and they’re coming toward the Midwest, so they’re on the way,” Sweeney said.
The Bolt is currently GM’s only emissions-free vehicle but that’s about to change big time. On Monday, GM announced that by 2023, it’ll be making at least 20 new all-electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, including two in the next 18 months.
Is the goal to eliminate gas-powered cars?
“It will take years. I think the answer is officially ‘yes,’ I think they’ve said that, but it will take years,” Sweeney said. “There’s countries around the world that are beginning to legislate the end of fossil fuels in vehicles — China, parts of Europe — already. Again, but years away.”
GM Vice President Mark Reuss said:
General Motors believes in an all-electric future. Although that future won’t happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles through no-compromise solutions.”
But it’s not just all-electric. Keep in mind, the goal is zero emissions, which means some vehicles will be powered by hydrogen. Sweeney said in the future, you could be filling up your car with hydrogen instead of gas.
“The interesting thing there is that fuel stations will have to switch from gasoline to hydrogen because the two don’t mix.”
The Chevy Bolt is a car but GM officials are well aware that the hot-selling markets are larger vehicles. Some of the new all-electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles will be crossovers and SUVs.
Auto sales around Youngstown continue to go up.
Sales figures released Wednesday show that the number of new vehicles sold in September was above what was sold last September. Last month, 2,988 new vehicles were sold — an increase of 15 percent from a year ago.
For the year, over 26,000 vehicles have been sold. That’s an increase of 14.5 percent.