Lordstown Motors: The Turbulent Attempt to Establish an All-Electric Automaker

For those seeking an insider‘s guide into Lordstown Motors‘ brief but eventful history, this extensive profile explores the Ohio-based startup‘s visionary beginnings, early successes, recent near collapses, the technology powering their vehicles, and what the future may still hold for the ambitious company.

An Electric Pickup Pioneer

Lordstown Motors burst onto the electric vehicle scene in 2018 with dreams of transforming an enormous former GM plant into the worldwide hub of electric pickup truck production. With Tesla enjoying tremendous success, founder Steve Burns sought to carry the EV revolution into the truck segment.

He assembled a talented leadership team from major automakers and tech companies, secured initial funding, and acquired assets like GM’s 6 million square foot Lordstown facility. Their goal – develop the world’s first mass produced all-electric pickup from the ground up.

This bold vision quickly captured attention and imagination in the industry. Were they building the next great American automaker or just an upstart not ready for primetime?

The Origin Story

Lordstown Motors has its roots in Burns’ previous venture, Workhorse Group, where he began developing electric delivery vans. As CEO there he became convinced that electric drive systems were the future, especially for trucks.

In 2018 he founded Lordstown Motors with COO Rich Schmidt. They soon brought on superstar talent from Tesla, Toyota, Intel and others. Major backers like GM provided investment allowing them to purchase the shuttered Lordstown Assembly Plant for $20 million in 2019.

Acquiring the factory was the big score allowing Lordstown to scale up manufacturing capabilities early on. As the pieces came together, the scrappy startup set speed records developing prototypes and completing regulatory compliance for their debut vehicle – the Lordstown Endurance.

Ambition Meets Adversity

Lordstown appeared to defy the odds as they raced towards planned production timetables ahead of much larger legacy automakers. But behind the scenes in 2021, major cracks formed in the facade of smooth progress.

Accusations emerged claiming Lordstown misled investors on demand forecasts and production readiness. Legal and liquidity troubles mounted. Executives jumped ship, and bankruptcy loomed before a rescue financing deal was secured.

The public image of the confident pioneer gave way to a company struggling to survive. But with a listed order book still in hand and fundamentally strong product plan, Lordstown continues its fight toward stability and vindication.

| Lordstown Motors Timeline | |
2018 | Lordstown Motors founded
2019 | Purchased Lordstown GM plant for $20 million
March 2020 | Acquired Workhorse tech after $7.5 million payment
Oct 2020 | Went public via SPAC merger at $1.6 billion valuation
Sept 2021 | Production of Endurance pushed to Q3 2022
Jan 2022 | CEO and CFO resign amidst SEC probe
May 2022 | Foxconn purchases Lordstown plant for $230 million
Present | Seeking additional funds to start production; Multiple investigations ongoing

Tech Breakthrough: In-Wheel Hub Motors

Instead of traditional electric motors, Lordstown vehicles have been engineered around an innovative in-wheel drive system — with a high power density motor inside each wheel.

This provides tremendous benefits over regular EV configurations:

  • Maximizes efficiency by eliminating drive shafts and differentials
  • Allows precision torque vectoring for improved handling
  • Simplifies maintenance with fewer components
  • Provides true all-wheel drive traction

Reviewers have been impressed with this unique platform after test drives. If Lordstown can validate it at scale, their in-house R&D team will have achieved something remarkable in propulsion.

Endurance EV Pickup – The First Fruits

The Endurance rides on this advanced engineering foundation. The muscular pickup delivers:

  • 600 hp and 4 wheel drive
  • 250+ mile range
  • Advanced driver assistance features
  • Fleet telematics vehicle monitoring

As a work-focused truck, the Endurance aims for maximum uptime via simpler electric design. Its capabilities and bold styling have drawn substantial interest, especially from commercial buyers needing reliable trucks.

But Tesla’s Cybertruck and Ford‘s F-150 Lightning threaten to beat them to market. Initial Endurance production has been repeatedly pushed back as corporate issues slow development. They now face serious competition playing catchup.

Foxconn Comes To The Rescue?

Lordstown’s troubles appeared ready to bury the young company in 2022 before iPhone maker Foxconn intervened. The major electronics manufacturer purchased the Lordstown plant for $230 million, essentially saving it from bankruptcy while becoming a partner.

Foxconn brings financial resources and the ability to help engineer and manufacture vehicles. With their support, Lordstown may finally be on track for limited Endurance production by the end of 2022 – nearly two years behind schedule.

Ramping up production would validate Lordstown’s vision of a dedicated electric truck maker. But with just $150 million left, they aren’t out of the woods yet. More new funding will be needed through 2023 to fully realize plans.

The Bumpy Road Travelled

Lordstown has endured enough corporate drama for a lifetime after just over 3 years in business. Lawsuits, insolvency risks, leadership chaos and factory uncertainty has battered the young startup.

But the assets remain strong – the facility, the technology, the orders. Under new ownership and still guided by founder Steve Burns’ determined vision, Lordstown Motors fights on – struggling but still daring to make its mark on the automotive industry.

If they can start truck production and keep ramping up, vindication over early doubters may one day arrive. For now though, Lordstown travels down an uneven road in hopes its ambitions weren’t too big and too bold.

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