Lordstown Motors Celebrates Endurance Reveal, Announces Production Delay

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – Lordstown Motors Corp. will produce its first vehicles for sale in late summer 2021, CEO Steve Burns said at Thursday’s reveal event to unveil the prototype for its Endurance all-electric pickup truck.

Lordstown Motors had expected to deliver its first Endurances to customers during the first quarter of 2021, but Burns said production is delayed because of the coronavirus.

“Some things, it just slammed shut,” Burns said of the virus, which prompted statewide – and nationwide – shutdowns of businesses for several weeks.

While engineers could work at home at about 75% efficiency, he estimated, retooling and other activities at the former General Motors Lordstown Assembly plant stopped completely, he reported. Financing also came to a halt, necessitating the delay for the first pickups hitting the road until next summer.

“And I have to even put the asterisk on that,” he said. “That’s assuming COVID’s done.”

Lordstown Motors already has orders for its first year of production, 14,000 units, Burns said.

About 250 guests attended the event, which featured Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel and Erin Spring, director of new ventures at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., which is supplying the tires for the Endurance.

Pence called the vehicle and the establishment of Lordstown Motors Corp. a “tribute to a half century of craftsmanship, a half century of integrity” and a reputation that has drawn the investment to the community.

“This is a great day for Ohio manufacturing, innovation and technology,” Spring said. Goodyear and Lordstown Motors “share values of performance, technology, innovation and an eye toward a more sustainable electric future, and the Endurance pickup exemplifies these values.”

Sales normally don’t begin until a vehicle is formally unveiled, but Lordstown Motors couldn’t afford to wait, Burns said. While company officials knew instinctively that a pickup truck that gets the equivalent of 75 miles per gallon would be attractive, the unknown was whether customers would buy the truck from a new automaker.

If demand warrants, the factory could produce 600,000 vehicles per year at full capacity. That compares to GM’s annual production for the Chevrolet Cruze at the plant, which reached 400,000 units. “Because [the Endurance] is so simple to build, we think we can do 600,000,” Burns said.

With its hub motor technology, the Endurance has far fewer than the thousands of moving parts in a modern-day pickup truck, “and those are the four wheels,” Burns said. “Every moving part is a decrease in efficiency,” he remarked. Because of its design, the vehicle is lighter than a gasoline-fueled pickup truck and the wheel design gives it better traction.

“It drives like a sports car,” he said.

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The event featured remarks by Vice President Mike Pence, Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns, U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel and Erin Spring, director of new ventures at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. Protesters also gathered outside the event.

Burns also told reporters that Lordstown Motors remains in talks with the U.S. Department of Energy for a loan from its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program.

“It is attractive to us and the DOE is being a great partner to us, but we’re not counting on it,” he said. “It’s fair to say like any loan you’re trying to get from a bank you’ve got to really prove that you don’t need it before they’ll give it to you.”

The Department of Energy is being cautious because there have been other electric vehicle startups that have failed, he said.

“They know we’ve got the chops to make it. The only thing they can’t control is, ‘Do people want it?’ That’s why the presales were so important,” Burns said.

Although the CEO would not go into specifics, he said he is confident Lordstown Motors would complete its capital raise soon. Past reports have put the capital raise target at around $400 million or more.

Burns is not concerned that GM recently extended its option to buy the Lordstown plant back from Lordstown Motors.

“To us, it is a paper possibility. GM’s been very vocal. We’ve been very vocal – GM is not taking the plant back,” he said. He praised the company for how it shut the plant down when it halted production in March 2019 and for its help in reactivating the plant.

And Burns said GM is selling Lordstown Motors some “key parts,” such as airbags, to help the startup get to market sooner.

Employment at the plant once full production gets underway will be around 900, he said. That includes 300 engineers, 400 line workers and 100 workers each for the motor and battery production lines.

Those attending Thursday’s event included Lordstown Motors workers, customers, elected officials and other community stakeholders.

“It’s another good day in Lordstown,” Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill said. “I think 2020 is going to be a great year. This is one of the first things to kick it off after our pandemic.”

In addition to the Lordstown Motors start, construction is underway on a regional distribution center for TJX Companies Inc. and site work is progressing for a $2.3 billion battery plant GM is developing to supply its line of electric vehicles.

“It’s exciting when you hear that they already have 14,000 sold. That’s just a start,” said Sam Covelli, owner of Covelli Enterprises in Warren. “It could take off and could be huge.”

Tom Humphries, president and CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, was pleased that Pence came for the launch event because of “all the naysayers” who doubted this would happen. “When you see that level of engagement in this project, I‘d say it’s a great project,” he said.

State Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-32 Bazetta, echoed Humphries’ appreciation for the vice president’s presence.

“To see that type of press and that type of response at the federal level, I think it sends a great message that Lordstown’s back on the map,” O’Brien said. “We’re going to have a great vehicle here. To have the vice president do the kickoff, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, it’s coming together to get this project up and running. I’m very excited about that.”

“We’ve been with this from the ground and just to see it tangible, it’s an amazing thing,” said state Sen. Michael Rulli, R-33 Salem. “This is all about the future, a different way of looking at things.”

Rulli said he and his colleagues were looking at buying the first one off the production line so that they could ride to Columbus together. He also voiced the possibility of purchasing one for his family business, Rulli Bros., for deliveries, or to auction off or give away.

“Why not? It’s an amazing vehicle. We’re lucky to have it here.”

Rulli said he and O’Brien have been involved in the project from the start. The two legislators introduced a bill to provide tax credits to promote sales of electric vehicles and charging stations.

O’Brien noted that JobsOhio has committed millions of dollars in state money should Lordstown Motors end up producing vehicles for the U.S. Postal Service.

“The postal contract would be cream for the top of the cake, because we’re going to build the Endurance here regardless,” O’Brien said.

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Images via Lordstown Motors Corp.

State Rep. Mike O’Brien, D-64 Warren, is optimistic state government would do whatever it takes to assist Lordstown Motors and other area projects.

“Lordstown was on the national scene for shutting down a plant. Now we’re excited that Lordstown’s on the national scene for the Endurance and also for future projects to come,” he said.

“This is very hopeful news,” added state Rep. Gil Blair, D-63 Weathersfield. Families that were forced to relocate when GM closed the Lordstown plant could potentially return to the area, he said.

“Today marks another step forward for the future of Lordstown, and I appreciate the hard work of everyone who made this day possible,” Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, R-22 Medina, said in a statement issued after he attended the event. “We will continue to fight for strong economic policies and opportunities like this for the hard-working families of Northeast Ohio.”

Elected officials not in attendance also weighed in on the Endurance Launch and Pence’s visit.

During a conference call Thursday morning, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, expressed regret for not being able to attend the event because of a Senate roll call vote on the National Defense Authorization Act. However, he voiced his support for the project and for Lordstown Motors’ continued investment in the area.

“I wish I could be there but I’m encouraged. I’m also hopeful Lordstown Motors will continue to invest in this new venture for the people in the region,” Portman said.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, also expressed disappointment that he could not attend the event during a virtual news conference following the Endurance unveiling.

Ryan lauded Lordstown Motors as “an opportunity for our community to move into the electric vehicle space,” and potentially create thousands of “good-paying jobs.” While he welcomed Pence into the community, he said Lordstown Motors needs the legislative and financial support that will allow the electric vehicle market to grow.

President Donald Trump in recent years has attempted to cut funding for the ATVM loan program that Lordstown Motors is considering.

“This is the loan program that Elon Musk used to develop Tesla,” Ryan said. “The administration, in the last few budgets, has zeroed out this program. I’ve been able to put the money back into the appropriations process and we need to continue that program in order to help Lordstown Motors.”

Ryan is pushing for federal tax credits for consumers to buy electric vehicles, including the Endurance, which would make such vehicles more affordable. The most recent budget submitted by the Trump administration does not include these tax credits, the congressman said.

Even though the Endurance will initially be sold as a fleet vehicle and not for the average consumer, Ryan said there is still need for the tax credits in developing the broader electric vehicle market.

“We’re really trying to cultivate that market,” he said. “You want to be in a position where you’re building trucks, you’re building cars, you’re expanding like a lot of auto companies have done over the course of history in the United States.”

“We have a hell of an opportunity here with Lordstown Motors,” Ryan said.

Clean Fuels Ohio Executive Director Sam Spofforth agreed, saying in a prepared statement that providing tax incentives and addressing registration fees that electric-vehicle owners must pay are necessary to expand the market.

“We are proud to join Lordstown Motors in celebrating this exciting milestone of American innovation,” Spofforth said in the statement. “The Endurance All-Electric pickup truck ushers in a new era for fleets and individuals, and demonstrates Ohio’s leadership in advanced automotive technology that will bring new jobs today and in the future!”

Jeremy Lydic contributed to this story.

Pictured: Lordstown Motors Corp. introduced its Endurance all-electric pickup truck on June 25 at its production plant in Lordstown, Ohio. (Image: Lordstown Motors Corp.)

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