Journal Opinion: Life After Lordstown Motors

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Here it was, the statement that many feared was inevitable: “At this time, we are not accepting new orders for the Endurance.”

The statement, taken from a Q&A document provided to suppliers of Lordstown Motors Corp. on the day it filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, was the denouement for a company that appeared sustainable only during the early rushes of optimism.

On June 27, Brite Energy Innovators’ Rick Stockburger was asked his reaction to the news. The electric-vehicle market is “a really hard business to break into,” he said.

Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill similarly acknowledged the EV pickup truck manufacturer had suffered “a lot of growing pains,” including recalls and supplier problems.  

The lack of surprise that Lordstown Motors is now insolvent makes the reality of the situation no less disheartening. But not all is lost.

Looking back, the saga seems choreographed. The early enthusiasm of public officials led them to tout the potential of the EV startup. Among the boosters was former President Donald Trump, who hosted then-CEO Steve Burns – the biggest booster – and the Endurance pickup for a visit to the White House Lawn in September 2020. Three months earlier, former Vice President Mike Pence visited the Trumbull County plant.

We tempered our skepticism.

Once Burns and the original leadership team departed Lordstown Motors, those left behind and brought in to stabilize the company did their best to make what remained work. (Burns is the venture’s big winner, having made more than $66.3 million by the time he sold his remaining shares last month.)

The fact that test models of the Endurance twice – that we are aware of – caught fire was far from encouraging. These events served as the accidental metaphor for a company mired in litigation with investors, regulators and rivals, production delays and inflated promises.

In documents filed with bankruptcy court, Lordstown Motors laid much of the blame for its financial travails at the feet of Hon Hai Technology Group and its Foxconn affiliate, with which it entered into a partnership that resulted in Foxconn acquiring the former General Motors plant from Lordstown Motors.  

The Taiwanese company says it will use the plant as a base for EV-related original equipment manufacturers and as an EV incubator.

Already Foxconn has a manufacturing agreement with Monarch Tractor; has entered into a framework agreement with Fisker Inc. to produce its Pear EV; and has signed a memorandum of understanding with INDI EV to manufacture a prototype of its electric vehicle.

Whether there’s life in Lordstown Motors post-bankruptcy restructuring remains an unanswered question. At the very least, credit the company for providing the initial spark to Voltage Valley.