Former Lordstown Motors CEO Shows His Faith in Endurance Trucks

Jackson Wheeler
11 Min Read


  • LAS Capital, led by former Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns, purchased the Lordstown plant and will call the assets by the name of LandX, also with Burns as its majority owner.
  • Some observers are skeptical about reviving the plant, saying required tooling investments will be heavy.
  • The Endurance Truck trickled out of the plant from September 2022 until June 2023, packing a 109-kWh battery rated at 174 miles of range and capable of towing 8000 pounds with its wheel-hub motors.

Steve Burns, the former founder and CEO of Lordstown Motors—a company aiming to build electric pickups in a dormant General Motors plant in Ohio—has been reunited with that bankrupt company’s assets.

In a unique turn of events, Burns resigned from Lordstown in 2021 not long after a critical report on the state of the company from Hindenburg Research. Lordstown, which had delivered only a handful of trucks to customers (37 according to one court document), filed for bankruptcy protection in June of this year. That led to the remaining assets being put up for sale, and now Burns is back in the picture.

Burns is the founder, CEO, and majority shareholder of LAS Capital (land, air, and sea), which purchased the company’s remaining assets last month for a mere $10 million.

LAS has other transportation-related companies listed within its portfolio. Greenstreet makes an electric three-wheeler with 250 miles of range. Ryse is an electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. And Blue Innovations Group (headed by Lordstown’s former vice president of propulsion, John Vo) is planning a 30-foot, 10-passenger electric day boat.

“All four of our companies have working prototypes and are in various stages of pre-production,” the company said.

Julio Rodriguez, who was the chief financial officer at Lordstown and resigned with Burns, is an “indirect manager” at LAS Capital, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) acquisition documents. The new entity that acquired the assets is to be called LandX, also with Burns as its majority owner.

president trump and lordstown motors ceo steve burns talk beside endurance electric pickup truck on south lawn of the white house in 2020

Then-President Trump hosts Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns and the Endurance truck at the White House in 2020.

Tasos Katopodis//Getty Images

No one else was interested in meeting the terms for the whole package, apparently. “Although the selling entities received several non-binding proposals for the purchase of specified assets, the selling entities through their board determined that none of these other proposals was a qualified bid in accordance with the bid procedures and determined LAS Capital to be the successful bidder under the bidding procedures,” the documents said.

It’s unclear exactly what’s in the $10 million asset sale, because some components came from outside sources. Included presumably are all assembly lines, related machinery, and other inventory, and of course a great deal of custom software and intellectual property. The factory building, with a GM/LG Energy Solution battery plant adjacent to it, is not part of the deal.

Committed to Producing Endurance Trucks

Burns told Autoweek he’s still committed to producing Endurance trucks. “I believed then, and I believe even more today, in what we built at Lordstown. That’s why I bought back the assets and rehired most of the engineering team. The customers who have driven the Endurance this past year, including the military, have helped prove our premise sound and our critics wrong.

“Our unique hub-motor platform provides greater simplicity as well as superior traction. We intend to build several exciting vehicles on the Endurance platform and look forward to announcing our full lineup soon.”

Some observers are skeptical. “The assets are not even worth $10 million,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst for transportation and mobility at Guidehouse Insights. “Lordstown never actually had hard tooling, and what it had is only able to build no more than a few hundred trucks. And there is no market for the Endurance, which has worse range than its competitors (174 miles), no support network, and unproven technologies.”

Gisli Gislason, a major figure in introducing electric cars to Iceland (where at least 60% of new car sales are electric, second only to Norway), describes himself as a “consultant/investor” to Lordstown. He’s much more positive.

Gislason said the factory could resume limited production within six months. But LandX declined to confirm that manufacturing at that site is its goal, and obviously former partner Foxconn would have to agree to any such plan.

Lordstown has already lost any exclusivity in the EV pickup marketplace, as the Ford F-150 Lightning, the Tesla Cybertruck, and the Rivian R1T are now out, the Chevrolet Silverado EV is slowly entering the market (but delayed at the Lake Orion, Michigan, assembly plant), and the Ram 1500 REV is a year away.

2022 lordstown endurance towing trailer at plant

Lordstown Endurance in towing mode.

Lordstown

Burns had previously led AMP Electric Vehicles and Workhorse Group, both based near Cincinnati. The latter had been a contender for a lucrative contract to build US Postal Service vehicles. Lordstown rode high for a while, with plenty of demand for a viable electric truck.

Lordstown went public via a SPAC deal in 2020. Getting the truck into production took a while, and there were delays and snafus—one Endurance caught fire during a company road test in Michigan. Lordstown stock reached as high as $31.40 a share, but it was $1.36 this morning.

The SEC launched an investigation into Workhorse in 2021, and it has also investigated Lordstown, but Burns has not been charged. A spokesman for Lordstown, who asked not to be named, said, “Two and a half years later, no legal or regulatory action has been taken against the company or his officers in connection with the allegations made.”

Is There Money to Expand Endurance Range?

Hindenburg Research’s conclusion was that Lordstown’s claim of 100,000 pre-orders for vehicles was not believable. For instance, Hindenburg said a 14,000-truck order from E Squared Energy, representing $735 million in sales, came from a company “based out of a small residential apartment in Texas that doesn’t operate a vehicle fleet.”

The Hindenburg report did not go uncontested. In June 2021, Lordstown issued a report conducted by a special committee of its board of directors, assisted by the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm. It charged that Hindenburg Research’s report was “in significant respects, false and misleading,” and that the challenges to Lordstown’s technology and timeline were “not accurate.”

But the rebuttal also admitted that Lordstown Motors “made periodic disclosures regarding pre-orders which were, in certain respects, inaccurate.” It said that pre-orders came from fleet management companies and “so-called influencers or other potential strategic partners that committed to attempt to secure pre-orders from other entities, but did not intend to purchase Endurance trucks directly.”

Trucks trickled out of Lordstown ahead of the just-launched Cybertruck, but the 1.9 million pre-orders for that much-delayed Tesla vehicle are with $100 deposits, albeit non-binding and refundable.

The four-door, crew-cab Endurance had challenges against the competition. For around $60,000 (other prices have been quoted), the buyer got a 400-hp work truck with four in-wheel electric motors (sourced from Elaphe, a Slovenia-based company) and a 109-kWh battery pack, with a relatively low EPA-certified range of only 174 miles.

Towing was stated at 8000 pounds. The truck’s 6.3-second zero-to-60 mph time is slower than some rival trucks. Hub motors have been seen in prototype vehicles but have never been commercialized at scale. The Lordstown electric truck was to use LG Chem batteries.

Lordstown sold its factory to Foxconn for $230 million last year, which caused a stock surge for the truck maker. But bad blood emerged between Foxconn and Lordstown, with the latter claiming the Chinese company failed to follow through with financial commitments and working together on developing vehicles. Foxconn countered that the deal was broken when Lordstown’s stock went below $1 a share.

It’s undoubtedly difficult to launch a new electric car company that can compete in the major leagues, and it’s harder now that the mainstream automakers are in the game. Lucid and Rivian have seen some bumps in the road. Lordstown/LandX, refusing to call it a day, has a lot of hard work ahead.

What do you think of the prospects for success for the revived Lordstown, Ohio, plant and the Endurance electric trucks? Please comment below.

Headshot of Jim Motavalli

Contributing Editor

Jim Motavalli is an auto writer and author (nine books) who contributes to Autoweek and Barron’s Penta. He has written two books on electric cars, Forward Drive (2000) and High Voltage (2010), and hosts the Plugging In podcast.  

Motavalli’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, CBS Moneywatch, Car Talk at NPR, Forbes, US News and World Report, Sierra Magazine, Audubon, and many more. In his spare time, he reviews books and jazz.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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