DETROIT — See if this sounds familiar: A start-up EV company is basically gifted a modern plant chock-full of world-class production equipment. To reduce product-development costs and time, its first vehicle uses thousands of proven off-the-shelf parts from major suppliers and established automakers.
Lordstown Motors is closely following Tesla's early playbook as it gears up to launch late next year the battery-powered Endurance, a full-size pickup with four electric motors, a 250-mile range and a starting price of about $52,000, before a federal tax credit of up to $7,500.
Flush with $675 million in cash from a reverse merger with a special-purpose acquisition company, Lordstown's path will veer in a different direction than Tesla's did once the Endurance starts rolling down the production line.
CEO Steve Burns told Automotive News during a brief test drive of the company's lone operational prototype in suburban Detroit that Lordstown will not sell to individual consumers — at least initially — and will target only fleet customers.
With just 50 engineers on staff, one drivable truck in existence, 40,000 preorders and deliveries scheduled to start in about a year, Lordstown will not only need every single thing to go perfectly, it might also need some luck. There's no telling, for instance, how the COVID-19 pandemic could affect product development.
Burns' plan to ramp up production quickly with a vehicle that targets the Ford F-150 in safety, handling and quality revolves around making the Endurance extremely simple. Engineers did that by reducing the number of moving parts in the drivetrain and by buying proven components already used in other vehicles.
"There are only four moving parts on the entire vehicle," Burns said of the four-wheel-drive Endurance's powertrain. He's referring to the electric motors installed in each wheel. They eliminate the traditional transmission, transfer case, axles, U-joints, driveshaft and other driveline parts in today's 4wd trucks.
The motors were designed by Elaphe Propulsion Technologies, a Slovenian company. Elaphe has been working to improve the performance of wheel hub motors and to reduce their weight. The motors are mounted behind each wheel on the Endurance.