Lordstown Motors stops work on electric van to focus on pickup truck

Lordstown Motors has stopped working on an electric van and other future projects in order to aim all resources at putting its first vehicle, a pickup truck called Endurance, into production later this year. The startup previously announced in March that it was accelerating work on the van, but it has struggled since then, with CEO Steve Burns and CFO Julio Rodriguez resigning this week after an investigation into misleading claims about preorders for the Endurance.

Burns previously billed the van as a “high-top” recreational vehicle with up to 350 miles of range. He said that it would be the “first mass produced all-electric RV,” and that Lordstown Motors believed “there will be many commercial use cases for an electric van of this size and capability.” But that will have to wait while the startup focuses on surviving.

“We do have a prototype van that’s been completed, and it shares a lot of commonized parts with the Endurance. It will possibly be shown later in the summer, but at this point, we’re currently focused only on the Endurance,” Lordstown Motors president Rich Schmidt said during an Automotive Press Association event on Tuesday.

Schmidt also said that a collaboration with RV company Camping World is on hold, which is supposed to involve service centers that would support the van. “Again we’re just focused currently on the Endurance truck. That’s our next goal for the next three months, is to make sure we hit our production targets and stay within our budgets and drive forward to getting the vehicles ready for the market,” he said.

Lordstown Motors interim CEO Angela Strand confirmed during the event that the startup still plans to start limited production of the Endurance in late September of this year. But Schmidt confirmed Tuesday that Lordstown Motors only has enough funding to make trucks through May 2022. That’s despite the fact that Lordstown Motors raised $675 million late last year after it merged with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) and became a publicly traded company.

Lordstown Motors said in March in its annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it planned to reveal the electric van in June and start production in late 2022. But Schmidt said Tuesday that it will now “possibly be shown later in the summer.” The startup also recently filed an amended version of its annual report, and the section about the van was removed.

Representatives for Lordstown Motors and Camping World did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Burns founded Lordstown Motors in 2019 after he left another EV startup called Workhorse. Lordstown Motors quickly snapped up a shuttered plant (and equipment) from General Motors, a deal that was praised by then-President Donald Trump, and licensed an in-development electric pickup truck from Workhorse.

Having a factory and a vehicle that was already largely designed was a huge part of the pitch Lordstown Motors made in 2020 to potential SPAC partners. Lordstown Motors said in its investor presentation that it had a “clear path to be first to market” in offering an all-electric commercial pickup truck.

But the startup has struggled lately. Short-selling firm Hindenburg Research published a report in March full of allegations that Lordstown Motors had misled investors about how many preorders it had collected for the Endurance, and claimed that the startup was behind on its target production date. The SEC subsequently opened an official probe into the claims, and Lordstown Motors assembled its own committee to investigate the allegations in the report.

Lordstown Motors said shortly after the report was published that it would share “a full and thorough statement in the coming days, and when we do we will absolutely be refuting the Hindenburg Research report.” Burns told a local news outlet that there’s “always haters,” and that he “quoted Taylor Swift to somebody the other day: ‘Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.’ You gotta shake it off.”

Lordstown Motors remained mostly silent on the report until this week, when the company’s committee and the board of directors released their findings. While they disputed Hindenburg’s claims about problems with the Endurance’s development, they confirmed that Lordstown Motors executives had misled investors about the viability of the preorders it had collected. Burns and Rodriguez announced their resignations the same day.

In the interim, Lordstown Motors lowered its goal for how many trucks it plans to make in 2021, and announced that it needed to raise more money.

Schmidt said Tuesday that he believes Lordstown Motors now has enough committed customers for the reduced number of trucks the startup can build by the end of 2022.

“It’s a new day at Lordstown, and there are no disruptions and will be no disruptions to our day to day operations,” Strand said Tuesday.

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