Lordstown Motors unveiled Thursday a prototype of its electric future, a pickup truck with four in-wheel hub motors and a few other features all aimed squarely at attracting contractors and other buyers in the commercial market.
The unveiling by this one-year-old Ohio startup didn’t get too deep into the details about the electric pickup truck known as Endurance. There wasn’t any information on the interior, performance or battery. The entire second half of the event took a 90-degree turn away from the truck and centered on its special guest, Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke for 25 minutes about President Trump’s policies on jobs and manufacturing, China and the COVID-19 response.
Before Pence took the stage, some new information was shared, including comments about the hub electric motors and a partnership with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. The companies agreed to collaborate on tires and service. Goodyear said it also intends to acquire new Endurance vehicles to integrate into its own servicing fleet.
It also appears that at least the first year of production capacity is spoken for — at least if every customer who pre-ordered the truck follows through and plunks down at least $52,500 to buy one.
Lordstown Motors said a number of potential customers have sent letters of intent, including AutoFlexFleet, Clean Fuels Ohio, Duke Energy, FirstEnergy, GridX, Holman Enterprises and ARI, Summit Petroleum, Turner Mining Group and Valor Holdings, as well as several Ohio municipalities.
Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns said Thursday the company already received 20,000 pre-orders for the truck, essentially its entire planned production capacity for the year. The company has said it plans to produce 20,000 electric commercial trucks annually, starting in 2021, at the former GM Assembly Plant in Lordstown, Ohio. The startup, an offshoot of Burns’ other company, Workhorse Group, acquired the 6.2 million-square-foot factory last year. Workhorse holds a 10% stake in Lordstown Motors.
“As the pre-orders continue to come in, we are making plans to ramp up production to meet the demand and get the trucks on the road as quickly and as responsibly as possible,” Burns said.
The first trucks will be delivered in late summer 2021, the company said. That’s a short timeline for such a new company. However, Lordstown wasn’t starting at mile zero. Burns said that under its agreement with GM, the factory was left largely intact.
“We didn’t have to build a plant and populate it with robots — we just have to reconfigure this plant and that’s what we’re busy in here doing,” Burns said.
The Endurance will start at $52,500, has an EPA estimated 250 miles of range and four in-hub electric motors, an important functional detail that should deliver different amounts of torque to each wheel as needed. It’s a system that might come in handy while off-roading or navigating a muddy work site. It’s also the truck’s biggest innovation, according to Burns.
“Our battery is, of course very important in a truck this size, but the big innovation is these hub motors,” Burns said during the event. “There are only four moving parts in the drivetrain of this vehicle and those are the four wheels. Just to put that in perspective, a modern-day four-wheel-drive pickup truck has thousands of moving parts — the pistons, the valves, the crank shaft, the differential, the gears, the driveshaft, the U joints, thousands of moving parts — and every moving part has to be lubricated and every moving part is a decrease in efficiency.”
The four-hub electric motor system that Lordstown has pursued strips out a lot of the complexity — which helps simplify and lower the cost of production — and provides a low center of gravity.
The vehicle also includes a few features designed for contractors, including an onboard power export to let an owner run power tools right from their truck without the need for a portable generator or leaving the truck running.