Laid Low in Lordstown: Coronavirus Didn't Spare the Startups

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
laid low in lordstown coronavirus didn t spare the startups

Lordstown Motors is just one of the contenders vying for buyers in the yet unrealized electric pickup segment and, like the others, it isn’t immune (pardon the phrasing) from the coronavirus pandemic’s fallout.

After moving into a mothballed General Motors assembly plant in Northeast Ohio late last year, Lordstown Motors now says the virus has pushed back its production plans.

In a message posted Tuesday, Lordstown CEO Steve Burns said employees are trying to get as much word done at home as possible, while “our design engineers continue testing and fine-tuning the technology that will power the Lordstown Endurance™ electric pickup truck.”

Some “essential maintenance” is ongoing at the plant GM offloaded for $40 million last year (offloaded = GM loaned the money to Lordstown Motors to set up shop).

Initially, the Endurance full-size pickup was slated to appear at this summer’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, but organizers kiboshed the June event last month. Now, Lordstown says interested parties will be able to view an online reveal “sometime in early summer.” As for real trucks hitting real pavement, that won’t happen until January 2021, Burns said.

Previously, the CEO, who founded and headed the company (Workhorse Motors) that owns 10 percent of Lordstown Motors, said production examples would hit the road in December.

Powered by four in-wheel motors, the Endurance is a ground-up build that Lordstown hopes sways fleet and retail buyers away from future alternatives. A teaser (seen above) is all we’ve seen of it thus far. Lordstown has spent the bulk of this year fundraising the $450 million it needs to repay the loan and retool the factory for Endurance production. Burns told The Verge last month that the $450 million figure should cover the costs of putting the Endurance into production — and all that comes with that.

“So we’re raising investor money, and one of the first uses of that is to clear up that mortgage,” he said.

Getting the factory for cheap has allowed the company to move forward with designing and prepping for a simple vehicle made simpler by the addition of hub motors, Burns said.

“So we have a body-on-frame scenario and we really try not to reinvent anything that we don’t have to. So all the software is ours, of course, the chassis and the suspension are designed to handle, you know, the uniqueness of hub motors,” Burns told The Verge. “But the simplicity of not having… there is not a gear in this vehicle. There’s not a drive shaft. There’s not an axle. There’s not a U joint. This is an extremely simple vehicle, even compared to a Tesla. So it is the simplest vehicle.”

Earlier this month, Lordstown received a letter of intent for 1,000 Endurance pickups from a Florida company that aims to broker the vehicles to its clients. The automaker’s ultimate vision is building 500,000 vehicles per year on three shifts a day — just like the original inhabitants of Lordstown Assembly did when the first-generation Chevrolet Cruze rolled off the line.

The size of the electric pickup market is hard to judge, given the popularity of — and presumed loyalty to — existing pickup product. The Endurance will have to do battle with Rivian’s upcoming R1T pickup (also pushed back by the pandemic), Ford’s electric F-150, and GM’s GMC Hummer EV, to name a few.

[Images: Lordstown Motors, General Motors]

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6 of 10 comments
  • Imagefont Imagefont on Apr 21, 2020

    Meanwhile, Mr Burns is lining his pockets with as much money as possible in preferred stock, salary and options before this whole enterprise goes belly up, which it surely will. I’d love to be proven wrong and for this to be a success. I’d love to see EV pickups roving the landscape, competing in some EV truck competition along with Rivian, Ford and a Cybertruck, but I think that event is only going to take place in cyber space. Facts, time, logic, economics and math are all on my side so it’s probably not going to happen.

    • NormSV650 NormSV650 on Apr 21, 2020

      The backyard is going to be LGChem/GM battery plant. Great logistics!

  • Hummer Hummer on Apr 21, 2020

    Yea I’m over this at this point, that three wheeled trike that was all the rage on TTACs page 5 years ago has a better chance of hitting the streets than this ever will.

    • See 2 previous
    • Imagefont Imagefont on Apr 24, 2020

      Hey now! I’ll have you know that Elio Motors, in business now for a decade, has a lovely website! Reserve yours today! All they need, and this is just a minor detail, is about 500 million dollars of other people’s money, some tax breaks, plus another 1 billions dollars, and a little more time and then after just a few more 6 month delays I’m sure they’ll start building their 3 wheeled death trap. It’s going to cost about $7500 for the base model. However, if you want a door, an engine and wheels there’s a modest $25,000 luxury package that’s mandatory on all models. Paul Elio has never worked a day in his life and he intends to keep it that way!

  • Norman Stansfield This is what you get when you run races to keep the cars bunched together for more excitement. F1 doesn't seem to have this problem after the first few laps.
  • SCE to AUX Too many cars = more wrecks. With today's speeds on essentially the same old track, starting with half the cars could reduce the congestion at the end. Or maybe it would increase the problem because the herd wouldn't thin early on.I say no overtime - finish at 500 miles and no more.
  • Garagezone There was an Indy 500 yesterday? Hmmmm...
  • Mark Morrison Sad it just reminded me how good TTAC once was … required daily reading.