Lordstown Motors Appoints Hightower as New President

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – Electric-vehicle manufacturer Lordstown Motors Corp. announced today it has appointed auto industry veteran Edward T. Hightower as its new president, replacing Rich Schmidt in that role.

Hightower’s duties begin Nov. 29, the company said. In a regulatory filing, Lordstown Motors said he will be paid an annual salary of $625,000 and an annual bonus with a target equal to 100% of his annual salary, based on performance evaluations.

He has 30 years of experience serving in product development, engineering, manufacturing, commercial, and senior executive roles at Ford Motor Co., BMW, and General Motors. He led GM’s $15 billion global crossovers business as the executive chief engineer and vehicle line executive. At BMW, he helped drive 5 Series sales, market share, and profitability in the U.S. to record levels, according to the announcement.

Hightower currently serves as managing director of Motoring Ventures LLC and has been advising Lordstown in a consulting capacity.

Edward T. Hightower

Schmidt, who helped Tesla launch its S, X and 3 models, joined Lordstown Motors in 2019 as its chief production officer under former CEO Steve Burns and was appointed president in 2020.

Burns resigned in June 2021 after an internal investigation found that executives had exaggerated preorders of the Endurance pickup, which is in the pre-production stage at Lordstown Motors’ plant here.

Also today, the company announced that Shea Burns has been appointed senior vice president, operations. In this role, Burns will continue to support efforts to launch the Endurance as well as the implementation of an agreement in principle with Hon Hai Precision Industries, or Foxconn, as a consultant.

Burns has over 25 years of experience in the automotive industry, including having previously served as vehicle launch leader at Ford and senior director of quality and director of engineering operations at Meritor. He also led numerous launches while at Ford.

These latest executive appointments are designed to focus company resources on its key near-term objectives: bringing the Endurance pickup truck to market, developing its strategic partnership with Hon Hai Precision Industries, or Foxconn, and strengthening its engineering capabilities for future vehicle development.

In September, Foxconn and Lordstown Motors announced an agreement in principle that calls for Foxconn to purchase Lordstown Motors’ plant for $230 million and act as a contract manufacturer for the company’s first product, the all-electric Endurance pickup.

“I am excited to welcome Edward Hightower and Shea Burns to these leadership roles with the Lordstown team as we move into this next critical phase,” said Lordstown CEO Dan Ninivaggi, in a prepared statement.

“They both bring deep automotive experience, and with strong backgrounds in engineering, new product development, manufacturing, and launch readiness. These skill sets are especially important as we not only pursue the launch of the Endurance but as we also pursue future vehicle development opportunities with Foxconn. I’d also like to thank Rich Schmidt for his contributions to Lordstown Motors.”

Lordstown Motors also announced other executive changes at the company.

Jane Ritson-Parsons, who has been serving as the chief operating officer, has been appointed to the newly created position of executive vice president—chief commercial officer. Ritson-Parsons will be responsible for building out Lordstown’s commercial strategy and continue overseeing several corporate functions including: sales, customer service and support, human resources, brand marketing and communications.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.