Startup Competes in Very Crowded Market

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – As Lordstown Motors Corp. sets its sights on getting the Endurance electric-powered pickup truck to market, it’s wagering that being the first on the road will give it a leg up on a crowded field of competitors.

At the outset of the company, CEO Steve Burns said his plan was to begin production by the end of 2020 and make 10,000 trucks the first year. Although the coronavirus pandemic has forced the startup automaker to delay the launch of its first model to after the summer 2021, Lordstown Motors may still be ahead of the game.

The biggest name in electric vehicles, Tesla, revealed its Cybertruck last year and expects to have the first ones in customers’ hands in late 2021 or early 2022. Already, Tesla has taken hundreds of thousands of reservations for the Cybertruck, which will be built at a new plant in Austin, Texas.

Meanwhile, legacy automakers are looking to get into the electric vehicle market. Ford Motor Co. is developing an electric version of the venerable F-150 and had previously invested $500 million in Rivian, another startup automaker that plans to have a luxury electric-powered SUV in production early next year. Ford has also partnered with Volkswagen to develop a small van, a cargo van, a small pickup and an electric vehicle as part of an alliance announced last year.

At the same time, General Motors plans on having 13 electric vehicles available by 2025, with the first ones available this year and electric pickups available in fall 2021. The vehicles, as well as some models for Japanese automaker Honda, will be powered by the Ultium battery, which will be made at the battery plant GM and LG Chem are building in Lordstown. That  plant is expected to be operational by 2022.

For all auto manufacturers, electric vehicles are the next frontier. While they account for a fraction of the overall auto market today, the segment is growing far faster than the rest of the industry.

Between 2014 and 2019, the global auto market had an average industry growth of 2.7%, coming in at around $4 trillion last year, according to research firm IbisWorld. The electric vehicle market, however, is forecast by Allied Market Research to grow at a 22.6% clip and reach $802 billion by 2027. And with trucks being the most popular vehicles, in the United States at least, the demand for an electric-powered pickup seems to be there.

Compared to existing American models such as the F-150, Chevrolet Silverado or Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Ram brand, the advertised performance of the Lordstown Motors Endurance is largely in line with what’s already on the market.

Lordstown Motors advertises a 6,000-pound towing capacity and 600 horsepower from its battery-powered truck. Ford boasts a capacity between 5,000 and 8,000 pounds with upward of 450 HP. Chevrolet claims a 7,000-pound towing capacity at 420 HP. And Ram says its entry-level 1500 model can tow 7,700 pounds with 395 HP.

As a privately held company, Lordstown Motors has not disclosed its investors or how much capital has been committed to the company. In December, the automaker announced it was working with Cleveland-based Brown Gibbons Lang & Co. to raise $450 million in capital.

No update has been given since.

Pictured: The Endurance is powered by four in-hub electric motors in the truck’s wheels.