MISHAWAKA – Momentum is built to give new life to the former Hummer H2 factory.
Electric Last Mile Solutions ber Indiana Economic Development Corp. about work training and other help needed to build electric class 1 (small, light) delivery vehicles in the factory that once manufactured the massive H2 and most recently a Mercedes-Benz luxury vehicle for the Chinese market.
Meanwhile, the company Auburn Hills, Mich., Announced on Friday that it has agreed to go public in a deal that is expected to close in the first quarter of next year and that it will be traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol “ELMS.”
The company said it has 30,000 pre-orders for its delivery vehicle, which will be the first Class 1 electric delivery vehicle in the United States and have the lowest cost of ownership. According to the company’s website, the vehicle will have a 170 cubic foot load capacity, a range of 150 to 200 miles and can be fully charged in as little as two hours.
“The demand for cost-effective solutions to support e-commerce ecosystems is overwhelming,” said James Taylor, CEO of ELMS, in a release. “ELMS focuses exclusively on the commercial vehicle market. Our products are designed to provide the most cost-effective, reliable and tailored solutions for last-mile delivery of goods and services.”
Neither the company nor the IEDC could be reached on Monday for comment. But in its release, ELMS said it expects to launch the new vehicle in the third quarter of 2021 and that it expects to expand to larger Class 3 electric trucks in 2022.
Bill Schalliol, Executive Director of Economic Development for St. Joseph County, said the company expects to hire about 150 people when the business grows next year and that jobs could be expanded to more than 400 by 2022.
Although the factory last manufactured vehicles several years ago, SF Motors and then Seres Automotive spent millions of dollars on upgrading the plant so that it could produce electric vehicles. But the wheels of that project fell off in 2019, in part due to ongoing trade conflicts with China.
In its release, ELMS said that the Mishawaka plant was chosen because it has already been retrofitted for the production of electric vehicles and that there is a good supply chain and experienced workforce. Scott Rivers, Sere’s unit chairman for Local 5 of United Auto Workers, said he had only had preliminary discussions with management.
If ELMS will ask the county for help with the project, it will likely come late this week or next week after it knows what the state can offer in the form of incentives, Schalliol said. Mishawaka Mayor Dave Wood said the city is also ready to offer help if needed.
“The great thing about the site is that the infrastructure is in place and the facility is ready to run,” said Schalliol. “It would be exciting to see a 19-year-old factory support jobs and produce products again.”
By serving as CEO of Seres and previously as head of Hummer and Cadillac, Taylor is familiar with the facility as well as the workforce, which gives hope that the proposal will actually be realized, Schalliol said.
Jeff Rea, President and CEO of the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he is also cautiously optimistic that the company will pursue its plans to restart the plant and that it has a product that will be in high demand, judging by its pre-orders and its potential customers.
“You see these trucks in neighborhoods every day,” he said. “This vehicle is expected to be the most affordable to use, and the pandemic has only increased the trend of home deliveries.”
Wood said he is also more hopeful that life will return to the factory, pointing out that it has the infrastructure and experienced manpower required to make the facility appealing to a carmaker.
“I can not speak loud enough about our workforce,” Wood said. “Whether it’s Humvees or RVs, we have a reputation for manufacturing that is known far beyond our area.”