Prototype truck assembled at old GM plant
LORDSTOWN — Automaking has returned to Lordstown, even if it’s just a prototype body for Lordstown Motors Corp.’s battery-powered truck.
The upstart electric truck maker posted a short video online Tuesday from inside its assembly plant showing robotic welders assembling 400 pieces of metal that form the sides, bottom and back of the first trial body for the Endurance.
Lordstown Motors spokesman Ryan Hallett said the 52-second clip, although it doesn’t look like much, shows a major step.
“What you’re seeing is repurposed robots that previously built the (Chevrolet) Cruze holding the pieces of the Endurance together and welding the body for a Beta vehicle,” Hallett said.
Lordstown Motors purchased the sprawling manufacturing plant in November 2019 from General Motors after the automaker closed it earlier that year, ending 53 years GM automaking at the plant. The last vehicle produced there was the Chevrolet Cruze, which GM has removed from its lineup.
Lordstown Motors has been retooling the plant since acquiring it to launch production of the Endurance.
The company remains on track to hit its March target to complete prototypes of the truck and to launch full production in September. It plans to build 57 beta prototypes for crash, engineering and validation testing and customer feedback.
So far, the company has received more than 100,000 nonbinding production reservations from commercial fleets for the Endurance, which has a sticker price of $45,000 after a federal rebate.
The significance of the milestone wasn’t lost on Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill, who along with other elected and community officials and 1,500 or so United Auto Workers in Local 1112, tried, but came up short in their effort to keep the plant open against GM’s wishes.
“It shows (Lordstown Motors) is moving forward. When they first came in, a lot of people, not me, but a lot of people had some concerns because it seems like we’re the land of broken promises,” said Hill, a Republican, noting past plans such as a dirigible factory and indoor motor speedway didn’t pan out.
“This here is moving forward, and it’s very significant,” Hill said. “I drive by the parking lot every week, and there are more and more cars out there (each week).”
Earlier this month, the company announced it has entered the Endurance beta skateboard, its chassis, in the 2021 SCORE International San Felipe 250, 290-mile single loop desert race April 17 in San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico.
In January, one Endurance prototype caught fire on a maiden road test in Farmington Hills, Mich., a Detroit suburb where the company has a satellite research and development center. No one was hurt, but a fire report states Lordstown Motors suffered a property loss of $150,000 in the fire that destroyed the truck.