Lordstown Motors CEO Assures Public the Endurance Will ‘RIDE’ in September

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – In an indirect rebuttal to a blistering research report issued last week that accused his company of misleading investors, the CEO of Lordstown Motors Corp. Monday assured the public that its new all-electric Endurance pickup truck would be in production and on the road by September.

“Whatever anybody thinks of us in the world, the main thing is we are going to be the first electric pickup truck in the United States, full-size, and that starts in September,” declared Steve Burns during a press event at the automaker’s manufacturing plant.

Hindenburg Research, a firm renown for taking short positions on company stocks, published a report Friday that alleged Lordstown Motors’ preorders for its vehicle, the Endurance, were “fictitious” and said the company has misled investors. It also alleged that the company was behind schedule in meeting its production targets.

Short sellers realize profits when a particular stock declines. In the wake of the report, shares of Lordstown Motors tumbled by 16.5% to $14.78 per share by the close of regular trading on Friday.

“We will be sharing a full and thorough statement in the coming days, and when we do we will absolutely be refuting the Hindenburg Research report,” the company said in a statement.

Lordstown Motors’ stock bounced back on Monday, gaining 9.74% to $16.22 per share.

The company merged with DiamondPeak Holdings Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, in October, propelling it to a public offering that month under the ticker RIDE.

Media were invited to the plant as Burns hosted Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who toured the facility earlier in the afternoon.

Burns told reporters that he wouldn’t discuss the Hindenburg report, but vowed that the company’s beta tests would begin in 10 to 12 days, move into preproduction during the summer, and then into full production by September.

“We’re in betas in 10 days and have started production of the world’s first electric pickup truck,” Burns said. “There are always haters.”

The beta models displayed Monday are robotically welded body skeletons of the Endurance’s cab. These models will be used for mostly safety validation, such as crash testing.

“This are a lot of pieces of metal held together, welded together by the robots here,” he said. “All these pieces – if it’s not perfectly square – you throw it away. You have to have robotic precision in holding it and welding it.”

Lordstown Motors’ Burns and Secretary of State Frank LaRose joined others during the tour of the plant Monday.

The plant plans to produce a total of one per day for 57 straight days once beta production begins, Burns said. “These are the bones,” he noted.

Burns said that Lordstown Motors has entered into probably the most competitive auto market in the country – the utility pickup truck segment.

“We’re a small car company – a startup culture,” Burns said. “But we have the assets of a very mature company.”

That’s because the company purchased General Motors’ former Lordstown assembly plant in Nov. 2019, which also included much of the production equipment intact. GM has about a 4.5% stake in the company, $50 million of it in-kind contributions through the plant transaction. “That’s why we’re so excited to be at this point,” he said.

Rich Schmidt, Lordstown Motors’ president and a 32-year veteran of the industry with experience at Tesla, gestured to a particular beta build that will be used strictly for head-on collision testing at 25 miles per hour.

The weld shop has about 900 robots programmed to fasten the beta models together, he added. “We build it here by hand and run it through a complete line, and do the manufacturing of that in assembly in the next two weeks,” he said.

Burns also said that production has started on the vehicle’s battery cells, which is underway in a room inside the complex’s East plant – better known as GM Lordstown’s former assembly operation.

GM closed the plant in March 2019, eliminating more than 1,600 remaining manufacturing jobs.

Burns said Lordstown Motors employs about 500; it expects to be at 1,000 when production of the Endurance is in full swing.

LaRose said he decided to visit Lordstown Motors because he wanted to see firsthand the progress underway at the former GM plant, which once employed thousands.

“I’ve really taken on the role of being an advocate for entrepreneurship,” he said. “I think this is incredible,” he said of Lordstown Motors. “This is an opportunity to take a challenging circumstance from just a few years ago and turn it into a truly unique and amazing opportunity for not only right here in the Voltage Valley, but all over Ohio.”

Pictured at top: Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose joined Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns for a press event Monday evening.

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Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.