A day before the first 2020 presidential debate in Cleveland, President Donald Trump hosted a Northeast Ohio delegation in front of the White House South Lawn comprising politicians, Lordstown Motors leadership and a lustrous Lordstown Endurance electric pickup truck prototype.
At the brief event, Lordstown CEO Steve Burns explained to Trump how the Endurance was “the first true four-wheel drive pickup truck ever made” due to its four independent hub motors.
“Everyone has wanted to do this, this is a great technology, they’ve known it, but until this, nobody’s actually done it—having the motors in each wheel. It’s an incredible concept,” Trump stated.
The Endurance will have a range of 250 miles, and feature 600 HP and 7,500-lb. towing capacity. Like the 2021 Ford F-150, it will have an onboard power export that will also be able to run power tools. The five-seater is expected to cost $52,500. The Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicle Credit could reduce the upfront cost by $7,500.
The Endurance will be one of the first electric trucks to hit the market, rolling off the lines at Lordstown Assembly. There are 40,000 (non-binding) pre-orders and company expects to go public by the end of the year. The plant previously owned by General Motors had been one of the most productive in the world since the 1960s. When GM closed it in 2019, that left the Rust Belt region of the Mahoning Valley without its biggest employer.
Trump was highly critical of the move, tweeting that March: "Just spoke to Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors about the Lordstown Ohio plant. I am not happy that it is closed when everything else in our Country is BOOMING. I asked her to sell it or do something quickly. She blamed the UAW Union — I don’t care, I just want it open!"
Later in the year, GM found a willing buyer in Lordstown Motors, a startup formed by Workhorse CEO Steve Burns using designs developed by Workhorse, which now owns a 10% stake in Lordstown and Burns became the CEO. GM also provided a loan and left the factory intact to help the startup accelerate production. Burns projects a 100,000 unit/year volume when the plant hits its stride.
“The area was devastated when General Motors moved out, then we worked together and made the deal on the plant,” Trump said standing with Burns in front of the pickup. “Beyond the plant, it’s incredible what’s happened to the area. It’s booming there.”
The administration has had a continued interest in the company and truck. Vice President Mike Pence appeared at the truck's unveiling in June.
A $2.3 billion battery factory jointly run by GM and LG Chem will also soon open across the street from the 6.2 million-square-foot assembly plant. Due to the complementary operations, officials have started to tout the area as “Voltage Valley.”
“Lordstown, Ohio got a gut punch when General Motors decided to stop making the Chevy Cruze and pulled out,” Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said. “Fifteen hundred workers lost their job right away.”
Between the juxtaposed plants, those 1,500 jobs will return. Lordstown Assembly had employed 4,500 before scaling back and it is unlikely those will all return due to the high amount of automation and low amount of complexity it takes to produce one of these trucks.
Jobs and economic recovery haven’t been as relevant to a presidential election since the Great Depression because of the COVID-19 shutdown. Unemployment was 3.5% in December 2019 and was 8.4% this August. Winning this swing state is crucial to Trump’s reelection chances. John F. Kennedy was the last president to be elected without Ohio’s electoral votes.
Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, is also strong on the auto industry, telling autoworkers at the virtual Democratic National Convention: "I tell you what, the future of autoworkers in America, and I really believe this, can be as bright as it was back in the late '40s, '50s."
Whoever wins in November, Lordstown Motors appears to be positioned for success.
The company stated after the White House event: "Over the past few months, the Lordstown Endurance has been introduced to potential customers and key stakeholders across the United States, including government officials from both sides of the aisle. Today, we are in Washington, D.C. to discuss opportunities for new jobs and new ways to ensure a clean and prosperous future for all Americans."