Tesla, Rivian, Lucid, Canoo, Faraday Future — the U.S. market is suddenly awash in EV startups hoping to take a shot at traditional brands like General Motors, Ford, Toyota, and Volkswagen. But breaking in isn’t easy. Lordstown Motors is an Ohio-based startup that nearly collapsed last year, yet it has still produced a full-size battery-electric truck.
The 2023 Lordstown Endurance pickup features a distinctive look. Especially up front, with lighting that wraps around its sealed front grille. But the truly unique feature comes with the use of four “hub” motors, each built into the truck’s wheels.
The approach has some advantages, including a tighter turning radius, more responsive all-wheel-drive, and quieter operation. All that does add to the truck’s unsprung weight, which can mean a rougher ride.
Lordstown Endurance rides on a skateboard-like “architecture,” similar to most other new battery-electric vehicles. Placing the lithium-ion pack beneath the load floor lowers the truck’s center of gravity while also freeing up space normally devoted to an engine compartment. With Endurance, that translates into a roomy front trunk, or “frunk,” as well as a spacious cabin.
In short: Lordstown’s new Endurance model boasts a distinctive design, reasonable performance, acceptable range, and plenty of space for both cargo and passengers. But it comes at a steep price, which may have some potential buyers looking at alternatives, such as the Ford F-150 Lightning that was just named North American Truck of the Year.
Lordstown Endurance: A Survivor
If you still think of battery-electric vehicles as quirky little products lifted out of a sci-fi flick, you’ll be surprised by some of the newest products coming to market. All the more so if you’re looking for an all-electric pickup.
OK, so the repeatedly delayed Tesla Cybertruck really pushes the design envelope. But there’s a growing list of much more traditional-looking trucks to choose from. And one of the noteworthy entries is the 2023 Lordstown Endurance.
Odds are, the name doesn’t ring a bell. No surprise. Lordstown Motors is an Ohio-based startup that planned to take over the old General Motors assembly plant in — surprise, Lordstown, Ohio. But it made a series of management missteps that nearly relegated it to be a brief footnote in automotive history.
After going public in a so-called SPAC merger, the company claimed to have substantial financial assets and a long list of buyers. Both proved to be fantasies. With few buyers, the SEC launching an investigation, and with a rapidly dwindling bank account, Lordstown fired its senior management team and barely managed to squeak through, selling the factory to Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that also produces Apple’s iPhone line. It was enough to keep the lights on – and work on the automaker’s first product, the Endurance, continued.
The all-electric truck began rolling off the Ohio assembly line late last year.
There’s been one big change in strategy, as the pickup is now targeted at commercial buyers — which could include individual customers like repair professionals — as well as larger fleets.
The first 500 Endurance models are being distributed through fleet management sales companies. An individual buyer could theoretically buy one through one of those distributors.
Production volumes are very slow at startup on all new vehicles like the Endurance, so it could take a couple of months to build that first batch of trucks. But, as Lordstown ramps up, it’s planning a broader distribution, which is expected to include direct sales to individual buyers. Look for more details on this by spring.
A Non-Radical Design
While clearly not the radical design of a Tesla Cybertruck, the Lordstown Endurance still won’t get lost in the crowd. It features a distinctive light bar above the solid front “grille.” That grille flows into accent lines that stretch the length of the truck.
The overall body is sleeker than a traditional pickup. Details like the grille help maximize range-extending aerodynamics. But this is a work truck, and the 67-inch cargo bed shows that wasn’t forgotten by Lordstown engineers. They also took advantage of the skateboard layout, repurposing the traditional engine compartment with a large frunk.
The layout also allows for a spacious cabin with a flat load floor. The cabin is among the biggest you’ll find in a full-size four-door pickup.
Unlike some new electric trucks, the Lordstown team kept things simple for the target commercial buyer. The cabin is refined but lacks the high-line frills you’ll find on some versions of the Ford F-150 Lightning and Rivian R1T.
There are two large displays: a digital gauge cluster and an infotainment touchscreen. There’s also a cluster of conventional controls. They include a panel for the climate system featuring oversize buttons that make it easy to operate — even while wearing gloves.
Powertrain & Battery
The most distinctive detail in the Endurance design is the use of hub motors — one for each wheel. The approach creates an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system. This avoids the complex mechanical tricks needed to shift torque around with a more conventional layout. It also permits the wheels to turn further, cutting the truck’s turn radius to a mere 47 feet.
Combined, the four motors produce a peak 440 horsepower. Lordstown also has floated a torque figure of 4,800 pound-feet. This is a seemingly astounding number, though the measurement process doesn’t allow for apples-to-apples comparisons to conventional piston-powered vehicles.
Two numbers better put things into perspective. The truck can hit 60 in about 6.3 seconds and can tow up to 8,000 pounds.
Electric vehicle range can be adversely impacted by a variety of things, including cold weather and towing. We’ve not had the chance to see how those factors play out on the Lordstown Endurance yet.
The automaker claims that, under ideal circumstances, it can deliver up to around 200 miles with a fully charged, 109-kilowatt-hour pack. That’s at the lower end of the current spectrum of EV pickups. It’s also around what the small pack offered for the Ford Lightning manages.
The automaker says you’ll be able to bring a nearly drained battery pack from a 20% to 80% state-of-charge in anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes using a public quick charger. This figure is largely dependent upon both outside temperatures and the amount of power delivered by that charger. Expect to spend at least 8 hours hooked up to a 240-volt Level 2 charger to get a full 100% charge from a drained pack.
Endurance Driving Impressions
As noted, Lordstown kept things simple with the Endurance. There’s no adaptive suspension, like the Rivian R1T, no “crab walk,” à la the GMC Hummer EV, and none of the BlueCruise hands-free technology found in the Ford F-150 Lightning.
It’s a solidly executed work truck that can also be used as a daily driver. Albeit with slightly less range than some might appreciate. That said, it could use more technology. The automaker left out such niceties as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Lordstown officials say they’ll add some features later using the truck’s smartphone-style over-the-air update capabilities.
It does come in as the slowest of the current all-electric pickups. But the Endurance compares more favorably to many of today’s piston-powered models. I had the chance to take it out on some of the windier roads along my favorite loop through Hell, Mich. I found the Endurance to be pleasant enough to drive.
The hub motors clearly add some unsprung mass. But the truck was nowhere as rough-riding as I anticipated. Its AWD system did a great job of handling not only the curvy roads and uneven pavement but the occasionally slick patches I encountered.
2023 Lordstown Endurance: Final Thoughts
On the whole, the 2023 Lordstown Endurance is a solid and well-executed effort. Especially from a brand that, just months ago, seemed destined to fail. It remains to be seen whether it can push forward to become an accepted and successful player in a market that has seldom welcomed new players. But the truck has enough going for it that commercial buyers should definitely give it some thought.
The downside is the price tag starting at $65,000. It is more affordable than the Rivian R1T and Hummer EV. But the price is a harder case to make when put up against the Ford Lightning. Even after a recent $16,000 increase, that brings the base model up to $55,974. And Chevrolet will likely undercut the Endurance when it begins rolling out the commercial version of the Silverado EV this year.
Of course, all these models are in extremely short supply. You’d likely not take delivery of a Lightning until 2024 if you placed an order today.
Meanwhile, there is the advantage of lower energy and near-minimal maintenance costs working in favor of the Lordstown Endurance.
The truck has a bit of an uphill battle. But the simple fact that it’s actually in production is a point in its favor.