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Lordstown Rides Again

Ever heard of Voltage Valley? According to Lordstown Motors Corp., it’s just outside the sprawling old steel metropolis of Youngstown, Ohio, in a town from which the electric vehicle maker takes its name. The auto industry is once again alive in Lordstown, after a long and storied past ending in early 2019 with the shut down of the 6.2 million square foot GM factory on what some call this generation’s “Black Monday.” From the moment the first Impala rolled off the line in 1966, the factory has produced 16 million vehicles and retains the capacity to make 600,000 a year. And now, the lights are back on, this time, to make the aptly named Endurance, a BEV (Battery-Electric Vehicle) truck that promises a bright future for the local economy and everyone who gets to drive one to work. 

Different from other EV trucks announced this year, the Endurance is the first electric work truck built for commercial fleet customers and it’s all about power — from its frame down to its four hub motors  — smart, fast, four-wheel-drive power to get the job done. Unveiled on June 25, in a live event attended by Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette and Vice President Mike Pence, the Endurance looks like a normal pickup truck with some EV signifiers here and there, like thin LED lights and the absence of a grill. Lordstown Motors Corp. CEO Steve Burns says: “We really tried to strike a balance on the looks since we cater to fleets. We thought, let’s keep the vehicle so that at least it’s a pickup truck. It has a bed and a cab and a hood, but let’s make sure—because a lot of fleets are very proud that they are putting their names on the side of an electric vehicle—let’s make sure folks can point to that and say, ‘Oh, that’s one of those electrics.’”

The truck’s looks may matter, but its performance is everything. The folks behind Lordstown Motors, who include automotive leaders from Tesla, Toyota, GM, VW, and Hyundai, claim that when stuck in the mud next to a traditional truck, the Endurance will come out first. This is not bravado, it’s a combination of engineering, tech, and sheer physics– manifesting in a smart, computer-controlled motor built into each wheel. The software knows when to keep you from spinning your wheels, giving the Endurance better traction than a conventional truck. More traction leads to better handling and on that front, the Endurance is purported to be one smooth ride. Again with the physics, when a pickup’s bed is empty, it doesn’t handle as well, due to the weight of the engine upfront. With the Endurance, the center of gravity is lower and the in-wheel motors hold weight on all four corners. Burns goes so far as to say it’s a pickup that drives like a sports car. 

Whether or not it drives like a Porsche, the Endurance assuredly offers no-frills on the interior, since it’s entirely geared toward the heavy-duty job site. But it is a BEV, so there will be a function-oriented dashboard with a widescreen combining the instrument cluster and an infotainment system. The truck can go from zero to 60mph in 5.5 seconds, has a battery range of 250 miles, can charge on a fast-charger in just 30 to 90 minutes, and with fewer moving parts, it will likely save on maintenance and repairs. Every dollar counts, and at $52,500, the truck is a real investment, but one that pays off. A cost comparison on Lordstown Motors’ website with the Ford F150 Lariat 4WD has the Endurance saving owners $19,178 over five years, $7,500 of which is a federal tax credit for buying electric. In performance, cost, and beyond, Burns insists the Endurance will match, or outperform, a traditional gasoline pickup in every way.

Lordstown Motors already has “pre-orders and letters of intent” for 20,000 Endurances, with delivery set to begin in Summer 2021, a number that’s not hard to imagine when considering Kelley Blue Book reports 2.5 million pickups were sold in the United States last year. With growing concern among auto industry players and consumers over environmental impact and economic security, the demand for electric pickups will only increase. “After hundreds of years of refinement and countless hours of engineering, a pickup truck only gets about 17 mpg and it’s not going to get any better,” Burns says. “It really needs a reset. We’re not coming out with a 10 percent better pickup truck, we’re coming out with a 500 percent better pickup truck and it’s safer, it’s quieter and it’s fun to drive and it costs less to own.”

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