When GM announced that it was closing several of its plants in the US and Canada, questions were raised if Elon Musk would jump on the opportunity to acquire more facilities for Tesla. The electric car maker, after all, has grown significantly over the years, starting as a niche carmaker that manufactured a small, quick two-door sports car, and evolving to a company that currently produces one of America’s best-selling passenger cars. With the Model 3 ramp, Tesla has found itself struggling to meet demand, and even its expansive Fremont factory, as Elon Musk put it, had become “packed to the gills.”
Tesla is poised for even more growth, as the company is set to release some of its most ambitious vehicles yet, such as the Model Y SUV, the Tesla pickup truck, the Tesla Semi, and the next-generation Tesla Roadster. With GM closing several of its plants, an opportunity appears to be emerging for Tesla to acquire more manufacturing capabilities in the US. This is an idea that Elon Musk is open to, as revealed during his recent segment in CBS‘ 60 Minutes. When asked by host Lesley Stahl if he is interested in acquiring facilities that GM would be retiring, Musk answered in the affirmative.
“It’s possible that we would be interested, if they (GM) were going to sell a plant or not use it, that we would take it over,” he said.
Musk’s statement appears to have resonated with Ohio officials, particularly Governor John Kasich. In a recent post on Twitter, Kasich invited Musk and Tesla to come to Ohio. Kasich even pitched the state’s workers to the CEO, stating that “there are no better workers than Ohio workers.” Directly referencing the GM plant set to be closed down in 2019, the Ohio governor added that “Lordstown is ready for you.” Musk, for his part, has issued a brief response to Kasich’s post.
Thanks, will consider next year
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 20, 2018
The past few years have not been kind to the seasoned auto workers from Lordstown, Ohio. Over the course of 2018, the 52-year-old assembly plant, which is responsible for building the Chevrolet Cruze, had seen several layoffs. Back in April, for example, GM cut the plant’s second shift, eliminating 1,500 jobs in the process. By late November, the American legacy automaker confirmed that it would be retiring the facility next year, as the company focuses on building crossovers, SUVs, pickups, and electric vehicles.
Ohio’s officials attempted to keep the Lordstown plant open for as long as they could. A report from local news outlet Cincinnati.com noted that US Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio’s senior senator, attempted to get a commitment from GM CEO Mary Barra. Ohio governor John Kasich did the same, even discussing the possibility of repurposing the facility with the GM CEO. Despite these efforts, the Lordstown assembly plant was listed as one of the facilities under GM’s chopping block nonetheless.
My statement on a conversation I had this morning with GM CEO Mary Barra. pic.twitter.com/B8Tf5xu4Tr
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) November 29, 2018
If Tesla does end up acquiring GM’s Lordstown plant, the electric car maker would be able to tap into a seasoned workforce that has decades of experience building cars. This bodes well for Tesla, particularly as the company has several vehicles expected for release in the coming years. That said, acquiring the plant might present challenges for the electric car maker as well, particularly as the United Auto Workers union (UAW), an organization that is not in good terms with Tesla, was influential in the Lordstown facility.
Tesla’s mission of accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy is starting to take form. Faced with competitive, disruptive, zero-emissions vehicles like the Model 3, legacy carmakers such as GM are now taking on a more EV-friendly approach. As the established companies go through these transitions, though, there are bound to be casualties. For GM, some of these casualties are the Lordstown plant’s employees. For these seasoned workers, the possible arrival of Tesla might very well be what they need to ensure that the auto industry remains alive in the state for years to come.