CHICAGO Elio Motors Inc. plans to spend more than $100 million to retool General Motors Co.s plant in Shreveport, La., which closed last summer after years of making midsize pickups.
Elio Motors will make enclosed, three-wheeled vehicles that are able to attain more than 80 miles per gallon on the highway. With an estimated sticker price of $6,800, Elios vehicles will be positioned as a low-cost alternative to four-wheeled vehicles.
Elio Motors will occupy about 1 million square feet of the more than 3-million-square-foot plant. An industrial developer will lease the rest to other tenants.
Elio Motors expects to begin commercial production in mid-2014, and plans to hire 1,500 people by late 2015.
"After the loss of GM, we (told) the people of northwest Louisiana we would pursue possible alternative uses for the old GM facility ... that would create new job opportunities," Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a statement.
Elio Motors is buying the GM plant from the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response (Racer) Trust, created by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court settlement agreement to redevelop former GM sites.
"Shreveport will be the perfect home for Elio Motors," president and chief executive officer Paul Elio said.
The company won an economic incentive package from the state, including performance-based payroll rebates and industrial tax exemptions.
"The plant is in fantastic shape. The equipment is top-notch and ready to go now. Vehicles were being built here just a few months ago. That saves us a tremendous amount of capital right up front," Elio said.
Retooling will begin when the real estate sale closes, to be followed shortly thereafter by the production of prototypes.