AUTO REVIEW: The Lordstown Endurance Marches to the Beat of a Different Hub Motor
By Henry Payne
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (The Detroit News/TNS) — Electric trucks these days are supercar wannabes. Go zero-60 mph in the GMC Hummer EV in three seconds! The Rivian R1T has neck-snapping torque! The Ford Lightning is quicker to 60 mph than a Ford Raptor! And so on.
The Lordstown Endurance pickup truck is different.
“How fast does the Endurance do 0-60 mph?” I asked chief engineer Darren Post, who was riding shotgun as I stomped the Endurance’s accelerator on to West Huron River Drive northwest of Ann Arbor.
“About 6.3 seconds, but our clients want us to slow that down,” smiled Post. “They worry their drivers will drag-race.”
Unlike Hummer, Rivian, Lightning, and Tesla Cybertruck (0-60 mph in 3.0 seconds!), the Lordstown Endurance is singularly focused on commercial truck fleets — not wealthy motorheads at M1 Concourse race track. That means Endurance is obsessed with efficiency. Woodward drag racing? Not so much.
It also means Lordstown is synonymous with yet another novel electrified term for our auto lexicon. If Lightning pioneered the mega-frunk, Rivian the gear tunnel, and Hummer crab-walking, then Endurance wants you to know about hub motors.
“Fleet customers are interested in cost of ownership,” said Post. “If they can adopt technologies that will bring down significant operating and maintenance cost of a vehicle, then that becomes a significant advantage. They are aware of the complexity of a traditional EV powertrain that requires gear reduction (transmission), lubrication, various shafts and u-joints that need to be kept up.
“So, as we talked about hub motors at the corners without that extra hardware, it became very attractive to them.”
Peer underneath the Endurance and it doesn’t look like any other vehicle on the market.
Tesla simplified the auto interior; Lordstown has simplified the drivetrain. Gone are the gearbox and driveshafts and u-joints found on other automobiles, including EVs.
The Endurance is motivated by electric motors on each hub, the driveshaft space replaced by huge cables carrying current to each corner.
The arrangement is key to Lordstown’s pitch to commercial clients. Less parts, less maintenance. Indeed, even as I tested the Endurance, a semifinalist for Truck of the Year in my duties as a North American Car, Truck, and Utility of the Year juror, the Endurance is the only vehicle nominated that will not be sold to retail customers.
As its customers’ 0-60 mph concerns reflect, Endurance is not a vehicle gym-toned for performance — unlike EV pickup peers such as Rivian R1T and Ford F-150 Lightning. Endurance is a vehicle to be driven efficiently, within the lines — not pushing the boundaries of speed (the Lightning will do an insane 4.0 second 0-60 run) or off-road performance (dude, Rivian can go deep into America’s national parks with 34-inch Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus off-road tires).
When asked if Rivian had looked at hub motors, Rivian engineer Kenneth Tsang replied matter-of-factly: “I can see where that fits Lordstown’s commercial model, but we are a brand focused on off-road enthusiasts.”
My time in the Endurance was spent in its natural habitat — urban Ann Arbor, navigating city streets and secondary roads. The same routes that say, a utility service truck, would take on daily rounds of less than 200 miles — which happens to be the $65K Endurance’s range, well shy of a $75K Rivian’s claimed 314 miles.
The Endurance was not unpleasant to drive, however. Far from it. With its smooth, instant torque, it felt like other EVs I’ve driven from Tesla to Hummer.
I flogged it harder, I’m sure, than any utility employee will be allowed. Lordstown stuffs its trucks with data monitors so owners can track their trucks — and it’s equipped with all-season tires to discourage off-road forays. This is not the Tesla Cybertruck.
Nor is it the F-150 Lightning.
The Lordstown and Ford products are the first mass-production pickups available in the commercial market. The startup vs. the legacy king of trucks. David vs. Goliath.
Lordstown is one of a rash of EV startups in the U.S. market that has taken hope from Tesla’s own David vs. Goliath success story. The Silicon Valley automaker reinvented the automobile with electrification and — just a decade after the introduction of its first mainstream product, the Model S — is the luxury sales leader in the U.S., beating out giants BMW, Mercedes and Lexus.
“As a startup, we can make decisions more quickly,” said Post, who came to Lordstown in 2019 after a 30-year career with GM as well as stints with two other startups. “We can take on new technologies without being hampered by standardized processes. And being a startup offers the chance to take a fresh look at what the customer’s need is and adopt technologies that could do things differently than the rest of the industry.”
Lordstown’s path will be formidable given the Detroit Three’s dominance of the commercial pickup market (F-series, Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra, Ram) — and because all three automakers have EV trucks of their own in the pipeline.
Ford’s offering, the Lightning Pro, isn’t cheap at $55K as EV material costs have inflated its sticker from $40,000 just four months ago. But the Endurance’s sticker is even higher at $65,000.
For that cost, customers get not only extensive tracking data and hub motors, but a deep “frunk” (front trunk) so workers can carry gear without fear of its getting waterlogged in the 5’8” bed. The 4-wheel-drive truck will tow 8,000-pounds.
Post’s team has not yet published a range figure for towing, a task that has proven a challenge for EVs. A recent TFL Truck report, for example, found that Lightning went just 93 miles on a charge when towing 6,000 pounds.
“There will be degradation in towing,” said Post, but he says customers will typically use the vehicle on low-mileage routes. “They essentially leave a depot, do work at multiple sites, then return to the depot. We’ve done study of data and found the average route is under 100 miles, but may extend upwards to 150.”
Inside, Endurance boasts modern, digital instrument and infotainment displays. Interior materials are simple — cloth seats, plastic dash — as the pickup assumes interiors won’t be driven by country club valets like retail-oriented brands, but used as daily workplaced for service and construction workers.
At 6’5” and 235 pounds, my large frame fit easily in the interior, and access to the 5’8″ composite bed was excellent with Chevy Silverado-like corner bumper steps.
Lordstown’s access to the market has not been as easy. The pickup maker purchased GM’s former Lordstown manufacturing facility but ran into financial problems that led to the resignation of its CEO, Steve Burns, then a sale of the plant to Foxconn — the Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer that is itself a rookie at vehicle manufacturing.
The Endurance is Foxconn’s first vehicle project. Indeed, it will be the first contract assembly plant in North America — seeking to replicate the success of Magna Steyr in Austria that assembles European models like the Mercedes G-Class and Jaguar iPace.
“We work closely with (Foxconn) as would any company launching a new vehicle,” said Post. “We have targets to meet in terms of quality, and on a daily basis we are involved in the plant as we are work through launch issues. We have very good working relationship with the Foxconn team.”
In keeping with its creative engineering and manufacturing, Endurance’s design is also unique. You can’t miss it on the road with its bold, horizontal lines tracing the bodywork like etchings on a circuit board. Also unique to any EV (save the Nissan Leaf sedan), Endurance’s charge port is found smack in the middle of the front fascia.
The Endurance launches off the assembly line — at less than 6.5 seconds 0-60 mph — in late 2022.
2023 Lordstown Endurance
Vehicle type: Battery-powered, all-wheel-drive, five-passenger pickup truck
Powerplant: 109 kWh lithium-ion battery driving four, in-wheel hub motors
Power: 440 horsepower
Performance: 0-60 mph, 6.3 seconds (mftr.); payload, 1,050 pounds; towing, 8,000 pounds; top speed, 74 mph
Weight: 6,450 pounds
Fuel economy: EPA 65 MPGe; range, 200 miles
Highs: Hub-motor simplicity; unique design
Lows: Higher sticker, lower range than Ford F-150 Lightning Pro
Overall: 3 stars
To Read The Full Story
Are you already a subscriber?
Click "Sign In" to log in!
Become a Web Subscriber
Click “Subscribe” below to begin the process of becoming a new subscriber.
Become a Print + Web Subscriber
Click “Subscribe” below to begin the process of becoming a new subscriber.
Renew Print + Web Subscription
Click “Renew Subscription” below to begin the process of renewing your subscription.