A new electric car company hopes to keep its production plant in Mishawaka

MISHAWAKA – Electric Last Mile Solutions, a new maker of electric vans located in the former Hummer H2 factory, saw its stock drop recently after a management shake-up.

Last week, ELMS announced that the company’s CEO James Taylor and Chairman Jason Luo had resigned following an investigation by a special committee of the board of directors which determined that certain executives had improperly bought shares of the company before ELMS announced an agreement to go public in December 2020.

The company said that Shauna McIntyre, a member of the company’s board of directors, had been appointed to replace Taylor and that Brian Krzanich had been appointed non-executive chairman of the board, replacing Luo, and that its financial statements would be retired because they couldn’t count on it anymore.

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As a result, the company’s stock plunged more than 30% in one day and has yet to show any signs of recovery. A number of law firms are filing class action lawsuits against investors who may have lost money.

The company did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. But McIntyre, a longtime auto industry veteran, said in a video that ELMS remains committed to producing electric vans for the commercial market.

“I want to unequivocally assure you of our continued focus and dedication to the ongoing business of the company,” McIntyre said in the video.

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ELMS took over the former Hummer H2 factory last summer with the intention of producing small electric utility vans with a range of 150 miles that could be used by service or delivery companies.

The exterior of the former Seres factory and former AM General factory Wednesday, March 31, 2021 in Mishawaka.  ELMS took over the factory in 2021.

Electric car company forges ahead despite setback

Bill Schalliol, executive director of economic development for St. Joseph County, said ELMS, headquartered in Troy, Michigan, had just over 60 employees when he visited the Mishawaka plant around the end of the year.

“We heard they were going to keep going, despite this setback,” Schalliol said. “They’ve worked hard to get here, and they’ve got a lot of determined people who want it to work.”

The county does not have a set of incentives straddling the survival of the business. Indiana has offered business tax credits, but these are based on actual job creation.

Jeff Rea, president and CEO of the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he was surprised by the news last week and worried it could hurt the business.

“Anything that creates doubt can be problematic for a business, especially if it’s trying to get out of the gate,” Rea said. But even so, he hopes the quick action of the board and the company’s business plan will be enough to overcome the setback.

“Everyone wants to see them succeed,” Rea said.

ELMS said it could employ up to 900 people at the plant by 2025 after ramping up production of two electric vans it plans to build.

Regardless of the outcome, the county still has a state-of-the-art automotive manufacturing plant that has received over $20 million in upgrades in recent years and an experienced workforce in the automotive industry, Rea said.

“Those are the things that drew ELMS to the area to begin with,” Rea said.

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