Cleveland car dealer's proposed Uber rival would have reportedly kept GM plant alive

March 21, 2019

A Cleveland car dealer reportedly proposed a plan that would have kept a now-idled General Motors new-car factory in Ohio humming for at least another five years.

Bernie Moreno, a Cleveland-based car dealer who owns dealerships across the U.S., reportedly approached GM with a plan to purchase hundreds of thousands of cars per year to use for an Uber-rivaling ride-share service, according to a report in The Vindicator last week. Moreno planned to hire drivers for the cars and expand the service across the U.S. and globally.

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According to the report, GM CEO Mary Barra rejected the proposal and stood firm on the decision to idle the Lordstown plant. The sources said Moreno met with GM in December last year, one month after the automaker announced its sweeping restructuring plans for North America that included "unallocating" the Lordstown plant and three other U.S. facilities. To start, Moreno wanted to buy 150,000 to 180,000 Cruzes—enough yearly production to run two shifts at the plant for at least another five years.

Local union boss David Green confirmed he met with Moreno and discussed some of the plans, but Moreno himself did not comment on the proposal citing a non-disclosure agreement. GM said the final outcome of the plant's future will be decided in labor negotiations between itself and the UAW later this year.

READ THIS: GM builds last Chevrolet Cruze, exits compact car market

The employed as many as 4,500 workers when it ran three shifts to meet Cruze demand earlier this decade. When it went idle, it took a final 1,500 jobs with it that were left on a single shift building the compact car. The end of Cruze production also effectively withdrew GM from the compact car segment, following Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (Dodge Dart) and Ford (Focus).

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