IRVINE, Calif. — You couldn’t have picked a better place to showcase an electric pickup truck ready to sweep into its market niche. Lordstown Motors on Jan. 14 brought the alpha version of the Endurance to the gently sloping front lawn of its new West Coast office building on a corner lot in a technology and business office park.
The sunny, clear day resulted from an unusual January warm spell, even for Orange County, where palms, mountains, cliffs, beaches and surf all combine to provide that desirable Gold Coast atmosphere for all things new and progressive.
Lordstown Motors and the Endurance land in one of the most electric-vehicle friendly regions of the U.S., where Teslas are commonplace in the driveways and garages of many upscale coastal communities. They chose Irvine because of its location and California’s reputation as a leading market for electric vehicle adoption.
The company had just opened its West Coast operations the week of Jan. 4, which is their first facility outside of the headquarters and production plant in its namesake Ohio town. Situated at a main intersection in the business park, Lordstown can command attention from drivers and passers-by, many of whom undoubtedly commute to and from corporate and business jobs.
Inside the one-story 27,200 sq. ft. building, Lordstown plans to house a sales staff, a team of engineers that develop the onboard infotainment system, and service bays. It’s keeping maintenance service in-house with a crew that can assess any problem and coordinate the best repair response with service contracted through Camping World.
Even when compared to the latest versions of the Silverado, F-150 and RAM pick-up trucks, the Endurance cuts a sleek, futuristic profile in keeping with an edgy EV image. You immediately can tell the Endurance would fit right in on a Hollywood movie set staged to shoot transportation scenes from the future.
The Lordstown team has noticed that many of the first-time admirers of the Endurance cut right to the closer: “As we’ve shown the Endurance to customers across the country there is tremendous interest in our design and technology, but the number one question is not about anything technical. It’s, ‘when can I get one?’” said Jeff Kenny, director of corporate sales and strategy.
In fact, on the day of their media event for three of us editors from Bobit Business Media, a man driving a Tesla pulled into the Lordstown parking lot and got out to walk around and admire the Endurance.
That underscores a vital sales principle for a new fleet vehicle model: If individual drivers can picture themselves buying it or wanting it for personal use, then they could positively influence fleet managers who decide whether to buy them.
Such receptive California vibes should bode well for the manufacturer, which plans to build beta versions of the Endurance this spring and start producing the Endurance this summer in time for a mid-September first release. Lordstown has received more pre-orders than anticipated, now at 100,000, and will produce at least 20,000 in its first year.
Most notably, the Endurance has a baseline range of 250 miles per charge, suiting the Endurance to localized fleet routing and work routines. The pick-up has 110v charge ports in the front and in the back along the right wall of the bed.
The pickup comes with a standard 5-foot, 6-inch bed. Lordstown also plans to build a version with an optional 6-foot, 5-inch bed. The model has two seating rows, with the back row able to fold down for an additional cargo area. If you check out the engine under the hood — wait that’s no engine, but 20 extra cubic feet of cargo space. It’s perfect for any utility or work crew needing to carry around tools and equipment.
Each wheel is attached to a 70-lb. motor that when combined can deliver the equivalent of 600 hp. The advantage is it provides a stable weight balance more centered than a heavier V-8 front internal combustion engine. The proximity of the engines to the drivetrain minimizes energy loss. A future body control module onboard optimizes traction and provides torque vectoring.
With electric vehicles, data drives efficiency and usage. The Endurance comes with onboard telematics that can assess a host of metrics, including the amount of power output per wheel. The vehicle is capable of over-the-air software updates that informs the infotainment dashboard overnight.
The Endurance will carry a competitive $52,500 MSRP before a $7,500 tax credit per unit for the first 200,000 vehicles, making it affordable for budget-driven municipal, corporate, and business fleets.
Lordstown is timing production so it can roll out the Endurance to the first customers in mid-September. In Ohio, it occupies a former GM plant that once made 400,000 Chevrolet Cruzes per year. Lordstown branched out from Workhorse, an electric delivery van manufacturer so it could build light-duty pickup trucks focused on fleets.
In distributing the first set of the Endurance, Lordstown plans to disperse them among varying size fleets and early EV adopters, ensuring they don’t only concentrate on the largest fleets. “We’re working with customers to understand their needs and desired timetables, and how those align with our production and service plans,” Kenny said.
Lordstown Motors’ move and launch at the start of 2021 further heralds the advent of the electric evolution in the fleet vehicle sector. Look for an exciting decade to come.