Lordstown Motors is using the manufacturing delay caused by the coronavirus to reconfigure the Lordstown assembly plant it bought from General Motors last year to build its Endurance electric pickups trucks. It expects to manufacture 30 pre-production trucks before the end of this year.
CEO Steve Burns, who previously founded Workhorse, says he expects to build 20,000 electric trucks in 2021 and will hire 600 workers to make that possible, but that is just the tip of his ambitions. The Lordstown factory could build 400,000 cars a year at its peak, but Burns tells the Detroit Free Press that because electric vehicles have many fewer parts and components, it should be possible to build 600,000 electric trucks and SUVs there a year.
“We didn’t buy a mass volume plant like this and not plan to fill it up,” Burns says. “This is a gem of a building built for volume manufacturing.” Burns expects to employ 4,000 to 5,000 people in the plant in the near future based on demand for electric vehicles. “We think the electric pickup is the new normal,” he says, and claims to have “well over several thousand” pre-orders for the Endurance, even though it has not yet been officially revealed. The Endurance was scheduled to debut at the Detroit auto show in June, but now that the show has been cancelled because of the coronavirus, the reveal will now take place online late next month.
In Wheel Motors, Low TCO
Burns likes to say the Endurance has only four moving parts — the wheels. They will have the truck’s electric motors embedded into them, the first production vehicle to use in-wheel motors pioneered by Elaphe. Starting at $52,500, the Endurance will have 600 horsepower on tap, a range of 250 miles, a towing capacity of 7,500 lbs, room for 5, AC outlets for power tools at remote locations, and the ability to recharge its battery to 95% in 30 minutes using a Level 3 DC fast charger.
The bumper to bumper factory warranty is 3 years and the battery is warranted for 8 years. Lordstown has not yet released the name of the company that will supply the batteries for the Endurance, which will be eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit.
Individual owners seldom concern themselves with the total cost of ownership of a vehicle. All most care about is the monthly payment. It’s like buying a house without stopping to consider how much taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance and repairs will add to the monthly mortgage payment. But fleet managers care about such details and for them, Lordstown Motors says it has good news. Over 5 years, it says the Endurance will cost $19,000 less to own than a comparable Ford F-150.
At the present time, Lordstown Motors has 70 employees — 20 at its design studio and 5o at the factory working on the changeover to EV production. Burns says it will be making its own battery packs. “There aren’t readily available battery-pack makers and in-wheel motor factories. When you’re an electric vehicle maker, the battery pack is a super important part and so you want to keep those in-house if you can for controlling cost, quality and supply. The Endurance is just our first vehicle,” he adds. “The architecture is easy to change for a midsize pickup or an SUV, so we’re trying to accommodate multiple vehicles besides the Endurance in the future.”
For the time being, “You’ve got the safety engineers, the lighting engineers, and we’re reprogramming robots as we speak to do the Endurance parts rather than the Cruze parts. That’s a big orchestrated, choreographed dance to make a vehicle. But the Endurance is going to be better than we thought. I think we’ll have well, well north of the 20,000 well spoken for. The demand side is super strong, I am starting to worry we won’t be able to make them fast enough.”
As we know, the demand side for the Tesla Cybertruck really is super strong. Whether demand for the Endurance will match Tesla’s numbers remains to be seen. Then there are competitors from Ford, GM, Bollinger, and Rivian waiting in the wings. Burns is pushing to get the Endurance on the road before those other electric trucks to establish a beachhead in the electric truck war. Will he be successful? “We’ll see,” says the Zen master.