Upstart Lordstown Motors Racing To Be First With All-Electric Pickup Truck


Powering past giants like Ford, GM and Tesla

By Jeff Sheban

The race is on to bring the first all-electric pickup truck to market in the U.S., and a small Ohio startup with a very big assembly plant claims to have the inside track.

Ford, General Motors and Tesla are the better-known brands charging toward the same goal, but newly formed Lordstown Motors has two major advantages. First, its Endurance pickup is based on proven technology that is already deployed in hundreds of United Parcel Service delivery trucks. And second, the company owns a fully equipped, 6.2 million-square-foot assembly plant that GM closed in March after the last Chevrolet Cruze rolled off the assembly line on the outskirts of Youngstown, Ohio.

GM’s sale of the plant to Lordstown Motors even elicited a “Great news for Ohio!” tweet from President Trump, who was critical of GM closing the “beautiful” factory in the first place.

“The plant is still warm, and gives us a leg up and lead over every competitor that there is,” said Michael Gibbons, senior managing director of the investment bank Brown Gibbons Lang & Co., which has been hired by Lordstown Motors to raise $450 million from investors in order to begin production by late 2020. The first “teasers” went out to more than 500 potential investors last week, including sovereign wealth funds and “green” investors, Mergermarket reported. The capital will be mostly equity but will also include a variety of debt instruments yet to be determined.

“We have a vehicle with millions of miles of proven performance,” Gibbons said of Lordstown Motors. The technology was developed by CEO and founder Steve Burns when he was running Loveland, Ohio-based Workhorse Group, a developer of battery-electric powertrains for delivery trucks currently being used by UPS. Burns left Workhorse earlier this year to establish Lordstown Motors.

The company already has 6,000 orders for the Endurance, which will cost about $50,000 before any tax credits. The truck will have a range of 250 miles and feature a front battery compartment to run power tools at the job site without the need for a portable generator or to leave the vehicle’s motor running. The initial target will be commercial fleets, but Lordstown Motors anticipates “huge pent up demand” for an electric pickup among farmers, suburbanites and others who drive trucks, Gibbons said.

Besides already having a top-notch factory, Lordstown Motors is optimistic about getting to production quickly because unlike a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle, the Endurance has fewer parts. For one thing, there is no transmission or combustion engine. Instead, the Endurance has a four-wheel-drive hub motor system already found in Workhorse vehicles.

The competition is not sitting idly by. Established manufacturers Ford, GM and Tesla, and startups including Rivian, Bollinger and Atlis, all have similar goals. An electric version of the popular Ford F-150 pickup could be ready by 2021, Rivian is hoping for a 2020 launch, and Bollinger hopes to begin selling its $125,000 B2 pickup as early as the end of next year, according to media reports.

But Gibbons thinks the Endurance will be viewing them from the rear-view mirror.

“I’ve never worked on a deal more exciting than this,” he said.

Jeff Sheban is Mergermarket’s Chicago-based Midwest Editor.


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