Fire Doesn’t Douse Enthusiasm for Lordstown Motors Stock

Update: 5 p.m. 2/8/2021 – Information on Lordstown Motors stock.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Shares of Lordstown Motors Corp. were up 63 cents at the close of business Monday, despite news reports of a vehicle fire involving one of its production mules last month in Michigan. 

Shares of the Trumbull County electric vehicle startup, which trade on the NASDAQ exchange under the symbol RIDE, closed at $27.40, up 2.36% their closing Friday at 26.77. Prices ranged from a low of $26.53 — just under Friday’s closing – to a high of $27.88.  

The stock’s performance follows news reports of a Jan. 13 vehicle fire involving a prototype of its Endurance pickup truck in Farmington Mills, Mich. Various online media outlets last week reported that Farmington Hills fire and police departments responded to the vehicle fire at 12 Mile Road and Copper Creek Lane. 

The driver of the vehicle, identified as Pirakalathan Pathmanathan, director of power train at Lordstown Motors’ satellite research and development center in Farmington Hills, said the drive was the first road test for the fully electric truck after clearing testing inside the center, according to a police report obtained by WFMJ-TV.

He and two co-workers had driven the vehicle for about 10 minutes when he noticed the truck was “driving weird” and pulled over when the fire started from underneath the truck.

In an emailed response to a request for comment by The Business Journal, Lordstown Motors spokesman Ryan Hallett said while the company normally doesn’t comment on “individual testing conditions,” he confirmed Monday morning that an “event” took place during a test with a production mule, not a full Endurance pickup truck. A production mule is a testbed vehicle equipped with prototype components requiring evaluation.

“No one was hurt, and like all of our test findings, we do it to create a great product,” Hallett said. “We remain on track to start production as originally announced.”      

Hallett did not respond to questions regarding whether similar incidents have happened with other test vehicles, whether a cause for the fire has been determined or what is being done to address the issue.  

The company remains on track to begin production of the Endurance in September.

In January, Lordstown Motors announced it had initiated metal stamping and welding for the first 57 Endurance beta prototypes, with the first trucks slated for completion in March. The company also is developing an electric van based on the Endurance platform. 

Last year, General Motors initiated recalls of nearly 51,000 Chevrolet Volt vehicles produced during the 2017, 2018 and 2019 model years after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced an investigation into the vehicle following five reports of vehicle fires. NHTSA also has looked into battery fires involving vehicles manufactured by Tesla. 

According to media reports, experts have said electric vehicles carry comparable, if not lower, risks for combustion to those of gasoline-fueled vehicles, though they caution that the comparatively low number of EVs on the road makes valid comparisons difficult. 

NHTSA recently announced a battery safety initiative that includes research, regulatory, and enforcement actions to help advance the safety of electric powered vehicles.

“While electric vehicle fires in the field are uncommon, NHTSA continues to monitor field data to better understand the relative fire risk of electric-powered and internal combustion engine vehicles,” an NHTSA spokesperson said. 

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.