Ohio EV startup Lordstown Motors revealed its first electric pickup truck, the Endurance, for the first time today at an event that featured Vice President Mike Pence.
The truck, which is aimed at the commercial market, is powered by four in-hub electric motors that give it not only all-wheel drive but the ability to independently deliver differing amounts of torque to each wheel, which especially helps when driving off-road or in poor conditions.
But other than that, very little is known about the Endurance. Despite unveiling a prototype version on stage, the company is keeping mum on practically all of the relevant specifications. Nothing was said about the price, battery pack, range, charging time, or performance during the hour-long event. The bulk of the time was given to Pence for a campaign-style speech touting the Trump administration’s record supporting manufacturing — all while omitting that the White House has repeatedly tried to end the federal tax credit for electric vehicles and rolled back regulations that pressure automakers to make cleaner cars.
Lordstown says it will start delivering the truck in early 2021, which is an aggressive timeline for a company that was founded just one year ago. The company’s CEO Steve Burns said his goal was to have the first electric pickup truck on the market.
“People are starting to believe in electric,” Burns said at the event. “We’re going to beat everyone to market.”
That said, Lordstown Motors isn’t exactly starting from scratch. Burns is the former CEO of Workhorse, a struggling commercial electric vehicle startup that has been around for a few years. Workhorse owns 10 percent of Lordstown Motors, and the Endurance is based on intellectual property that Lordstown Motors is licensing from Burns’ former company. Lordstown Motors paid Workhorse $15.8 million for that IP, and Workhorse will make 1 percent on every Endurance truck sold (for the first 200,000) and is entitled to 1 percent of any debt or equity financing the new startup raises.
Lordstown Motors also already has a place to build the Endurance: the former General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio that closed in late 2018. The plant’s closure had become a favorite target of President Trump’s, saying GM CEO Mary Barra had made a “big mistake.” In May of last year, Trump prematurely announced that GM was selling the plant to Workhorse. Before long, though, it became public that a new company was being spun up to buy the factory and to take on new outside investment without the baggage of Workhorse.
GM even loaned Lordstown $40 million to buy the plant. Burns told Reuters in January that the startup was a “few weeks” away from paying that loan back. But when The Verge asked Burns about the loan in March, he said he “got a little pushback for even saying that,” and that he “shouldn’t even really talk about [Lordstown’s] financing other than to say we are on track with our financing goals.”
Burns told The Verge Lordstown Motors needs about $450 million to reconfigure the plant and get the Endurance into production. The company made no mention on Thursday about fundraising progress, though. Lordstown Motors has said it’s pursuing a loan from the same Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) program that helped put Tesla on the map.
Burns told The Verge in March that he had met with DOE Secretary Dan Brouillette, and that he feels Lordstown Motors is “very well-suited” for the loan, but that “by no means is our success contingent on it.” Brouillette even attended Thursday’s event. But the DOE has not given out an ATVM loan in years, and the Trump administration wants to remove it from the 2021 budget altogether.
The Endurance is entering a market that is about to be very crowded with electric pickups. EV startup Rivian, backed by Amazon and Ford, plans to sell an electric pickup truck and SUV starting in 2021. An electric version of GM’s Hummer is due late 2021. Tesla plans to start building its electric Cybertruck in late 2021. The Ford F-150, the most popular truck in the US, is getting an electric version starting in 2022.