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CEO extols positives of Lordstown Motors on heels of critical report

Staff photo / R. Michael Semple ... Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns talks about progress at the electric pickup truck plant on Monday during a visit from Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

LORDSTOWN — Lordstown Motors Corp. CEO Steve Burns didn’t directly address a damning short-sellers report of the electric truck startup Monday, instead choosing to highlight what’s positive about the company as it rolls toward production launch later this year.

The company also issued another statement on Friday’s report by Hindenburg Research, a New York City-based investment research firm known for short-selling stocks, that it’s aware and “intends to respond as appropriate in due time.”

“Whatever anybody thinks of us in the world, the main thing is we are going to be the first electric pickup truck in the U.S., full-size, and that starts in September and really, for a lot of people, it starts in 12 days,” Burns said.

Last week’s report accused Lordstown Motors of misleading its investors and the public regarding preorders for its battery-powered truck, the Endurance. It also characterized the company as a mirage.

Shares of Lordstown Motors stock dropped 16.5 percent Friday to close at $14.78 per share, but rebounded some Monday to close at $16.22 per share, an increase of 9.7 percent.

Burns took questions from the media Monday after taking Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose on a tour of the plant, which has five beta prototypes in production. Two of the cabs were on display.

The first beta prototype is expected to roll off the production line in 10 to 12 days. After that, the company plans to produce one beta per day for the next 57 days as it heads toward preproduction in September. The betas will be used for crash, engineering and validation testing.

“I can’t speak to the Hindenburg report, (but) I can tell you two things. We are at betas in 10 days, and we are starting production of the world’s first electric pickup truck,” Burns said. “I know I say that a lot, but think about the gravity of the world’s first electric pickup truck starting right here.

“All we can do is add jobs. What pays for those jobs is selling these trucks,” Burns said. “In this business, unfortunately, typically, you have to spend $3 billion to $4 billion before you make your first dollar, but because we got this great plant because of the help of General Motors, because of our unique design in our hub motors, we’re able to get there (at) a lot less, but it’s still hundreds of millions of dollars we are committing.”

Lordstown Motors is operating out of the former General Motors assembly plant in Lordstown. It bought the plant with GM’s help to produce the Endurance, for use by fleets after GM idled the facility in March 2019.

The company has about 500 employees now and plans to bring on another 500 over the next several months. Also, the company has 200 consultants on board.

In addition, Lordstown Motors is building out an 800,000-square-foot battery-pack plant / propulsion center inside the sprawling 6.2 million-square-foot manufacturing plant.

“We need it. We could have built our battery pack anywhere, but we built it here because we thought it was the best place to do it. Anyway, that’s all I can tell any doubter. There is always haters. I quoted Taylor Swift to somebody the other day, ‘Haters going to hate, hate, hate, hate.’ You’ve got to shake it off,” Burns said.

LaRose also Monday met with Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel and Guy Coviello, president / CEO of the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber. He was at the plant to learn more about Lordstown Motors.

“I think what this is, is an opportunity to take a challenging circumstance from just a few years ago and turn it into a truly unique and amazing opportunity for not right here in the Youngstown area — Voltage Valley as we like to call it — but all over Ohio,” LaRose said.

rselak@tribtoday.com

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