The pickup market is already hot, and with the introduction of fully electric options, the segment is getting even hotter.
The 2023 Lordstown Endurance is a made-in-America electric truck with a unique platform that’s being aimed at commercial fleet customers. With so many startup electric vehicle (EV) makers like Rivian, VinFast, Lucid, Faraday, and others from all over the world vying for attention, Lordstown is trying to hold its own against the likes of Tesla and Ford. The brand has plans to expand to non-fleet buyers and even debut an SUV, but with all the delays it’s experiencing, the company seems to have an uphill battle ahead.
What is Lordstown?
Lordstown Motors is an American startup EV maker founded in 2018 and based in Lordstown, Ohio. The company has been in the headlines and has been described as “embattled” as it’s faced delays, legal proceedings, and executive shake-ups. The company stated in a press release that it is aiming to deliver 500 units of its electric truck to customers in 2023 – an admittedly slow start, and a goal that’s dependent on the company securing more financing. Production of the Endurance finally began in September 2022.
The Lordstown Endurance was initially forecast to be the first electric pickup truck to market, but with all the delays and financing issues, it was beaten to market by the Ford F-150 Lightning, Rivian R1T, and gargantuan GMC Hummer EV Pickup.
What is the Lordstown Endurance?
The Lordstown Endurance is a full-size work truck that’s aimed at commercial fleet customers and not everyday consumers, a strategy that makes it a bit different. Built from the ground up to be an electric work truck, it boasts a unique setup by utilizing an in-wheel hub motor in each wheel, enabling four-wheel drive. The company claims it also provides more vehicle control and utilizes fewer moving parts. Lordstown says this means less maintenance and less downtime, which is important for fleet customers.
The Endurance looks like a stormtrooper from the front and is a very funky-looking truck that stands out with its grille-less design and black trim that can be seen from every angle.
The Endurance has a 109-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and is capable of 150-kW DC fast charging, bringing the truck from 20 per cent to 80 per cent charge in about 45 minutes.
The company is targeting a range of 322 km (200 miles) and claims the truck can tow 3,629 kg (8,000 lb). Total system output is rated at 440 hp, and Lordstown says the truck can accelerate from zero to 96 km/h (60 mph) in about 6.3 seconds. Top speed and acceleration can both be restricted by fleet managers, which is beneficial to both range and insurance costs. In most regards, those specs fall behind what the Rivian R1T and Ford F-150 Lightning offer.
How Does it Drive?
During a brief test drive, I was impressed by the build quality. It’s not a fancy or luxurious truck, but there were no creaks or rattles and everything was working seamlessly. Highlights were the truck’s easy manoeuvrability (it didn’t feel like a big truck to pilot), accurate steering, and regenerative braking that has two settings and was easy to modulate without feeling twitchy. My tester had its acceleration and top speed governed, so it was swift but not warp-speed quick.
The truck struck me by how relatively low-tech the cabin was. There’s no real tech or safety features to get excited about. A digital dashboard and the touchscreen are under a single panel and there’s no huge iPad-like interface, but that’s by design and the physical buttons make it more practical for its intended buyers. The buttons are big and beefy, which means drivers can use them easily without having to take off their gloves. It all means it’s inherently user-friendly.
Speaking to its low-tech nature, even the seats are manually adjustable, but many of the features hard-working trucks need are included, like a 400-watt inverter for 120V outlets, corner step rear bumpers, wiring for upfitting and auxiliary accessories, a big frunk, and storage under the rear seats.
As a work truck, the 2023 Lordstown Endurance might appeal to fleet managers looking to go electric, but its US$65,000 starting price still seems like a steep investment for a truck that lacks the range and features expected. (Canadian pricing isn’t yet available.) Perhaps if it had more clever features to make it more practical in the field or was priced to seriously undercut its competitors then it would be more compelling to fleet operators, but as it is right now, the timing and the price don’t seem right. The F-150 Lightning work truck, by comparison, starts at US$59,000 and is backed by a century of manufacturing know-how and history.
Remember, however, that this is a stripped-down work truck, and we need to stop thinking that all EVs need to look and feel like spaceships inside and boast enough tech to make NASA blush. For what it is, the Lordstown Endurance meets the brief, but doesn’t really go above and beyond to make its case truly compelling.