Depending on who you ask, Lordstown Motors is usually one of two things. It’s either the most credible of the many electric pickup startups out there and its use of in-wheel electric motors is an inspired plan to create more flexible, efficient assembly processes that truly free vehicle designers to design vehicles free from the traditional packaging constrains of engines, transmissions, and the like — or it’s a company that’s doomed to fail, because its devotion to in-wheel electric motors makes its trucks inherently fragile and unwieldy.
In a bid to silence those critics, Lordstown Motors is entering a modified version of its Endurance model electric pickup truck into the grueling San Felipe 250 off-road race later this year. And that truck is expected to look something like this:
Before we get too far down the SCORE off-road racing rabbit hole, I’d like to inject a little bit of op-ed here. Simply put, I’m not much of a believer in hub-mounted electric motors. Much like the 3-wheelers trotted out by companies like Elio Motors and Vanderhall in recent years that promise a sort of hybrid car/motorcycle experience, I feel like what they actually deliver is the worst of both possible worlds, with none of the speed or thrills of a motorcycle, and all of the danger and exposure to the elements, with the inability to avoid ruts and potholes thrown in to genuinely punish anyone foolish enough to buy one with their own money. Similarly, the in-wheel motors seem to placed in the worst possible location. From a handling and vehicle dynamics perspective, in-wheel motors jack up a vehicle’s unsprung weight by dozens (if not hundreds) of pounds, all while leaving them exposed to bad weather, salt, moisture, and impacts with curbs and potholes.
Now, I’m no electrologist, but you wanna know what sounds to me like it’d be bad for electric motors? Salt, moisture, and impacts. I’m just sayin’ is all — and it seems like enough people with enough access to the decision makers over at Lordstown Motors have said enough about these concerns that the company has decided to do something.
That “something” is the SCORE San Felipe 250 race, where the Ohio-based company’s electric pickup prototype will compete against a number of purpose-built off-road racers campaigned by professional teams and packing all manner of varied, internally-combusting engines that have been developed for decades. What I’m saying is that the Lordstown entry ain’t gonna win, but that’s OK. This isn’t about winning, this is about proving that the Lordstown Motors Endurance pickup will have enough durability to live up to its name once it reaches the market as (probably) a 2022 model vehicle that you can, you know, actually buy.
It doesn’t hurt that the off-road version of the Endurance (shown above) absolutely looks the business, and the company would be mad — MAD! I tell you! — to even consider not offering this thing as an all-electric alternative to the Ford Raptor.
If you just can’t wait until April to see a Lordstown Endurance get put through its paces off-road, check out this video put out by Lordstown Motors’ CEO Steve Burns, that shows him hammering the snot out of an “alpha” version of the Endurance’ EV “skateboard” below. Then, keep on scrolling to let us know what you think of the Endurance’ chances at San Felipe in the comments section at the bottom of the page.