Journal Opinion: Charging Up Voltage Valley

Our transformation into “Voltage Valley” can only be boosted by the success of Lordstown Motors Corp. But it doesn’t depend on the electric vehicle startup meeting its sales and production goals. 

The biggest investment – and economic development spinoff – will come from the $2.3 billion Ultium Cells battery plant under construction in Lordstown.

Recently we learned that Thomas Steel Strip is investing $8.5 million in its Warren plant and adding 42 jobs to support its entry into the rechargeable battery market. Brite Energy Innovators, the incubator in Warren, is buzzing with companies seeking help with electrification projects as are real estate agents who are busy answering inquiries – some of them from foreign companies – about available industrial buildings and land in Lordstown.

All of us in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys are pulling for Lordstown Motors to succeed. Still, we have an obligation to cover the company in the context of events – from a fire that consumed a test vehicle earlier this year to charges that it was misrepresenting pre-order numbers and production readiness to class action suits the company is facing.

On page 10 of this edition, Dan O’Brien summarizes the annual report Lordstown Motors filed March 25 with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In the document, the company bluntly outlines a litany of risk factors for shareholders. Among them are market acceptance of its products, and the ability to complete the engineering of the Endurance pickup truck and retool the former General Motors plant to manufacture the vehicle, and deliver on customer expectations.  

“We are a company with an extremely limited operating history, and have generated no revenue to date,” the annual report states. “As we attempt to transition from research and development activities to commercial production and sales, it is difficult, if not impossible, to forecast our future results, and we have limited insight into trends that may emerge and affect our business.”

Fair enough.

When Hindenberg Research alleged Lordstown Motors had misled investors, we looked into the background of the company, including the firm’s history of taking short positions in startup stocks. We also reached out to a source quoted in the report who rebutted some of Hindenburg’s assertions.

When class-action law firms began to line up in hopes of cashing in big on Lordstown Motors’ alleged failings, we reported the parade was forming.

And when Lordstown Motors disclosed that the SEC requested documents and information on issues related to vehicle pre-orders and the merger that formed the company as it exists today, we reported those disclosures.

SEC requests for information mean just that; no one knows if anything will follow a cursory review.

There’s more than one spark to Voltage Valley. Let’s stay charged up.