A recent press release from Lordstown announced that its Endurance pickup has finally gotten required regulatory approval. According to the release, 500 units of full-size battery-electric pickup trucks have been homologated and are now leaving the Foxconn EV Ohio plant for customer delivery. This is a slow start to production, but it will gradually accelerate as supply chain constraints get resolved.
“I am very proud of the Lordstown Motors and Foxconn EV Ohio team for their hard work, grit, and tenacity in achieving this milestone,” said Edward Hightower, Lordstown CEO and President.
“We are very excited to start delivering vehicles to our commercial fleet customers. The EnduranceTM will provide benefits to customers that use their vehicles for work. It optimizes key attributes of traction and maneuverability — with our in-wheel hub motors, safety — with our five-star crash performance, and value in the segment.”
While it was a short press release with only the most basic information, this press release is kind of a big deal. Why? Because the Endurance has been through some serious challenges to get to this point. Let’s go through this so we can fully appreciate it.
The truck started life in another company with a very different design. Development for the range-extended electric vehicle Workhorse W-15 began in 2016. In May 2017, automotive press got their first chance to see and test drive the W-15 at an event held in Long Beach, California. The truck had an all-wheel drive powertrain with 460 hp (340 kW) coming from two traction motors — one each for the front and rear axles.T
The motors were powered by a battery situated between the frame rails that included 6,000 cells from Panasonic. The full capacity was 60 kWh, but it was restricted to 40 kWh to ensure longevity. The all-electric range covered approximately 80 to 100 mi (130 to 160 km).
The car came with an onboard 11 US gallon (42 liter) gasoline tank and three-cylinder range extender, which added an additional 310 miles (500 kilometers) to the vehicle’s range. The 0.7 liter I-3 engine was estimated to have 38 horsepower (28 kilowatts) and 41 lb⋅ft (56 newton meters) of torque. Fuel economy was estimated at 75 mpg‑e (46 kW⋅h/100 mi) on electricity, dropping to 28 / 32 mpg‑US (~8L/~9L per 100 km or 29km/25mpg -city / 34mpg highway ) for the EPA city/highway driving cycles, respectively.
In autumn 2019, Steve Burns, the CEO of Workhorse, left to help found automotive startup Lordstown Motors. In exchange for a 10% minority stake in the latter company, the W-15 design was licensed to Lordstown in November 2019. After that point, Workhorse ceased any further development of the W-15 prototype.
At the end of December 2019, Lordstown Motors gave the first glimpse of its upcoming vehicle. The electric pickup truck design was later named the Lordstown Endurance. In June 2020, Lordstown showed official sketches of what the passenger cab would look like, and finally revealed the pickup to the world on June 25th.
The W-15 was a range extended electric pickup, but the Endurance changed all of that. Instead of a traditional drivetrain layout, it has four in-hub motors that are completely electric. The new vehicle’s debut was announced in June 2020. It is estimated to have 600 hp (450 kW) with 4,400 lb⋅ft (6,000 N⋅m) of torque. Elaphe Propulsion Technologies, located in Slovenia, licensed the hub motors for this project. Each motor weighs about 70 lb (32 kg), which added to the unsprung mass. However, CEO Burns was confident that software and suspension technology being developed would overcome these challenges. In fact, production Endurance models will use 150-lb (68-kg) hub motors.
While the final design was mostly decided in 2020, things turned sour for the company in 2021.
In January 2021, a prototype Endurance caught fire and was destroyed ten minutes into its first test drive. Details of the incident were not released to the public until February 2021. In March, Hindenburg Research, an investor which bets against Lordstown stock, published a report alleging that company had falsely inflated preorder numbers to increase investor confidence. The report included additional details about the fire obtained from a police report.
In June 2021, company officials announced their intentions to begin production of the truck in fall 2021, although they had no firm orders, as they were confident in their ability to produce into 2022. This same month, CEO Steve Burns and CFO Julio Rodriguez stepped down due to an investigation established by Hindenburg’s report which revolved around preorders.
The company stated that it would have significant difficulties acquiring the necessary funding to enter full production. They went on to say that the US$587 million they reported in their latest quarterly SEC filing would not be nearly enough to reach “full commercial production.” Later that year, Workhorse sold most of its share in Lordstown.
To raise the necessary capital for production startup, in September 2021 Lordstown announced it would sell the factory to Foxconn for $280 million. According to the contract agreed upon between both parties, once production begins, Lordstown would manufacture the Endurance while Foxconn manages and owns the facility. The first vehicles were unveiled during a October 2021 event helmed by representatives from both companies. Finally, May 2022 saw the closure of sale papers and Foxconn took full ownership of the property.
Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ohio, production originally slated for 2020 was postponed first to 2021 and then pushed back further to fall 2021. Another setback occurred when it was revealed there were a lack of confirmed orders (the drama described above), which led to another delay in production until April 2022. However, supply chain issues forced yet another postponement and now Lordstown says that production will commence sometime during the third quarter of 2022.
But, Lordstown is finally set to actually ship a vehicle to its first customers. This is exciting from a technology perspective, because it will be the first production EV to rely on hub motors instead of inboard motors driving CV shafts to turn the wheels. For some applications, especially off-roading, the simplicity of the drivetrain would make it a lot easier to increase clearance with a lift kit.
We’ll get to see how well this technology works in the real world in the coming months, and that’s going to be a lot of fun for cleantech nerds.
Featured image provided by Lordstown.
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