The eagerly anticipated premiere event for the Lordstown Endurance electric pickup prototype held Thursday revealed very little new information about the product.
Instead, the event included an aspect that Silicon Valley—or Detroit, usually—likes to keep out of its technology and vehicle events: having them become overtly political.
Lordstown Motors did vouch for the strengths of the local manufacturing workforce and provide the first look—on stage at the plant and broadcast to several thousand viewers via a video feed—of the Endurance, the fully electric, fleet-oriented pickup that it plans to build at a former GM plant starting next year.
Then Vice President Mike Pence rode onto the stage in the prototype and, after hitting on some of those same themes, used the truck as a backdrop for a 20-minute speech on campaign topics.
Vice President Mike Pence - at Lordstown Motors event, June 2020
In battleground Ohio, having Pence there for more than just a photo op was likely a return of favor to the Trump administration, which helped find funding for the company and its purchase of the GM plant last year—a fact that President Donald Trump didn’t recall when he ordered the automaker to start using the plant it no longer owned to start making ventilators.
General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!! FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!! @GeneralMotors @Ford— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020
That said, a marginal amount of product news did emerge from the event—most of it either from an accompanying release or a brief Q&A afterward.
The key stats for the electric truck are mostly as we’ve reported before: 600 combined horsepower from four wheel-hub motors, and a range of about 250 miles.
Lordstown emphasized a 75 MPGe figure for the truck. That’s 44.9 kwh per 100 miles, so given the 250-mile range Lordstown has been suggesting, the truck needs a usable capacity of about 112 kwh and probably, given the long-term fleet focus of the truck, a gross capacity of 125 kwh or more.
As with the Ford F-150 Hybrid, there will be 120-volt outlets included that can be used to power tools. Using the 7.0-kw onboard charger, a full charge takes 10 hours on 240 volts, and DC fast charging will be available but hasn’t yet been detailed.
In an accompanying statement, Lordstown revealed that it plans to produce 20,000 trucks in 2021. The combination of 14,000 preorders and letters of intent from a list of provided companies and utilities cover the full first year of production.
The company also pushed first deliveries to late summer 2021.
“The delay is the result of stay-at-home orders which limited the progress engineers could make and halted all in-plant retooling, as well as delays from suppliers and vendors,” the company said in the release.
As Burns noted last week in an interview with Green Car Reports, the Endurance doesn’t share anything with existing pickups from major automakers, except for safety-regulated parts, and carries over very little from the Workhorse W-15, Burns’ previous project. But the company aims to take these underpinnings and produce other body-on-frame variants, including a smaller truck and an SUV.
“This truck should be the safest truck, the best handling truck, the most economical truck,” Burns said in the Q&A.
Lordstown Motors factory - 2020
Burns also emphasized that typically factories are “just gutted” when automakers leave them, but the agreement with GM to keep it intact—”still warm” from Chevy Cruze production, with paint shops—saves them a year in getting to market.
“It takes a golf cart and three or four hours to really see it,” said Burns. “There’s thousands of robots asleep...and they’re gonna wake up; we have more stamping presses than Tesla.”
The one thing that Lordstown will be building, Burns said, is “a little Gigafactory” inside the plant, to assemble its own battery pack, with about 6,000 cylindrical cells and overseen by former Tesla talent. Burns also noted that they’d inherited a 2.2-megawatt solar array from GM.
Pence’s appearance served to underscore the inherent conflict the company faces in the electric-vehicle sector in getting cozy with the Trump administration, which has largely opposed the incentivizing of solar and wind energy and the greening of the grid.
Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette - Lordstown Motors event, June 2020
The truck rollout was preceded by an address by Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, who noted ongoing research on extracting rare-earth materials from coal reserves in Appalachia—a project initiated under the Obama-era Department of Energy.
Lordstown has revealed that it is seeking an Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan from the DOE. The same type of loan that hasn’t been awarded in years and the Trump Administration proposed eliminating.
The company also reiterated that the price of the Endurance will be $52,500 before tax credits. The Endurance is expected to be eligible for the $7,500 EV tax credit—another point of conflict, as the Trump Administration blocked an extension of the program last year.