Battery-powered pickup has the objective to ‘be as good or better in all areas’
YOUNGSTOWN — Lordstown Motors Corp.’s battery-powered Endurance pickup is more akin to the Chevrolet Silverado, but the benchmark the electric vehicle company is trying to achieve for the fleet-style truck is Ford’s F-150.
The F-150 is the leader in the fleet market, said John LaFleur, chief operating officer for Lordstown Motors, which has the objective to “be as good or better in all areas” than its competitor.
“I don’t want to discount the Silverado because our vehicle is more in line with a Silverado than an F-150. We kind of modeled it (the Endurance) around that because, you know, the GM (General Motors) plant, GM’s potential partnership with parts that could be there – that’s not finalized yet, but we want to prepare ourselves — but they (Ford) are the big player and they are the benchmark.”
LaFleur was in Youngstown on Tuesday for the second of two supplier procurement events as the company continues to ready itself to start production later this year at the former GM assembly plant in Lordstown.
The first event Jan. 29 was for facility suppliers. Tuesday was for automotive suppliers.
Lordstown Motors wanted to accomplish two things — “one was to make sure we got a clear message to suppliers, the challenges we are looking at, the product configuration, enough about it so they knew where they might be able to offer targeted help for us. That is something we really want to get across,” said Darren Post, Lordstown Motors’ chief engineer.
“Then on the other side, gaining some feedback from suppliers directly … where they think they can play a constructive role, especially since we need suppliers that have more than just simply parts or materials, but that also have solutions or capabilities to help us develop solutions.”
About 450 attended each of the events at Stambaugh Auditorium. Combined, the meetings attracted — in addition to the local, state and regional suppliers — suppliers from 19 states and two international firms.
Attending from Cleveland was Rob Kuhn, senior account manager with Rockwell Automation, and representatives of the company’s local distribution partner, Winkle Electric Co. Inc. in Youngstown, Ted Martin, account manager, and Bill Jupp, business development manager.
“We do control systems for the equipment in the plant,” said Kuhn. “So think about a computer, (a) touch screen, things that turn machines on and off … the brains of most machines, most of the equipment that turns things on and off.”
Rockwell equipment already is inside the plant. It would need reconfigured to make it work for Lordstown Motors. Rockwell systems don’t control the robots, which have “brains” of their own, but are an integrated part of production.
“It may be a little different, different shapes, different sizes, some of the coding, how you sequence things in the plant may be different so you have to reprogram it,” Kuhn said.
In addition to distributing the equipment, Winkle has on-staff engineers for help when a Rockwell representative can’t.
“We can get into the plant, help you figure out the problem,” Martin said.
Meanwhile, the company is doing “some due diligence right now” on a loan application to the U.S. Department of Energy for $200 million to repurpose the plant to make electric vehicles.
Company founder Steve Burns was in Washington, D.C., last week to meet with U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, and reportedly, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, about the loan. It’s Ryan who is leading a bipartisan effort of representatives and senators to urge the department to award the funding.
“We feel confident, we have gotten a lot of support from the state of Ohio, everyone from Sherrod Brown to the governor to all of the senators,” LaFleur said.