Inside the Endurance electric pickup, from Lordstown
Rivian has major backers, a massive backlog of orders, and the old Diamond Star (Mitsubishi/Chrysler) plant in Illinois. Tesla has marketing money can’t buy, including constant sci-fi media propaganda pushing Nikola Tesla’s genius to levels he himself (immodest though he was) would be surprised by; and they have plants in California and China. Bollinger has wealthy backers waiting to take the luxury off-roader among the rocks and trees. And then there’s Lordstown Motors, which recently acquired an old GM plant, and has named its truck the Endurance.
What makes the Endurance special? Well, first, it seems to have dropped the idea of a separate transmission, instead using a motor at each of the four wheels for a rather simple but effective all wheel drive system. That reduces weight and complexity, which should help reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) — and TCO is the holy grail for commercial buyers. The Endurance is aimed at fleets, not individuals—businesses and government, not luxury-car buyers.
The base price has been set at $52,500, with a 250-mile range, 600-horsepower peak, and a top speed of just 80 mph — because it’s a commercial truck, not a toy. The towing capacity is set at 7,500 pounds. More to the point, like the old Dodge Ram Contractor (of which a small pilot run was tested), it can double as a power generator for tools and accessories; pumping out 30 amps of 120VAC. That may be why the range is larger than it really needs to be for a commercial truck. Safety features include rear cross path alerts, blind spot detection, and the usual panoply of gizmos.
The charging time is 10 hours to 95% capacity, using a normal AC charger, or around 1.5 hours using a special fast charger. Most buyers will probably simply set it to charge overnight. The battery is warranted for eight years, the rest of the truck for three years.
Rivian is the closest direct competitor—and it’s likely to have a Ford-branded pickup version with a unique grille.
The company compared their truck to the Ford F-150 Lariat 4×4; both have the same purchase price, but after five years at 10,000 miles per year, the Endurance (after a federal tax credit) ends up cost around $15,000 less. About half of that is reduced fuel and maintenance cost.
Does the Endurance (and Lordstown itself) have a shot, despite an emblem that resembles Renault’s from a distance? It appears that there’s going to be a large appetite for commercial trucks and vans soon, but 2020 to 2022 are going to be busy years for launches, and marketing and finance might play as large a role as capability. The main key, though, will likely be initial quality. A vehicle that’s no more reliable than a Transit or Sprinter (or a Tesla) will likely have a short life in the brave new world.
Clark Westfield grew up fixing up and driving past-their-prime American cars, including various GM and Mopar V8s. He has ghostwritten auto news for the last few years, and lives in Farmingdale, New York.