Mike Pence rides on stage in an Endurance electric van

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Ohio auto startup Lordstown Motors unveiled its Endurance electric pickup with help from vice president Mike Pence, who participated in the demonstration.

Pence climbed onto the passenger seat of the prototype truck during the presentation Thursday at the company’s factory in Lordstown, Ohio, where large-scale production will begin early next year.

“It’s a great ride and I’m a truck guy,” said Pence on the podium.

“After a heartbreaking day in 2019, see this kind of return – I hope you see that it shows the confidence that the people of this company have in the people of this community,” said Pence, referring to the formwork of the GM parts plant which now houses Lordstown Motors.

Vice President Mike Pence took the stage in the passenger seat of the new Endurance electric pickup truck at an unveiling on Thursday at Lordstown Motors’ Ohio plant

Lordstown CEO Steve Burns presents Pence at the event. Lordstown hopes to be the first electric pickup on the market

Lordstown CEO Steve Burns introduces Pence to the event. Lordstown hopes to be the first electric pickup on the market

“It’s a great ride, and I’m a truck guy,” said Pence when he got on the podium

Founded last year, Lordstown Motors has ambitious plans to compete with established rivals Ford, General Motors and Tesla, all of which plan to launch electric vans in the coming years.

Lordstown, however, plans to be the first to hit the market and is already taking orders from fleet customers for its $ 52,000 Endurance.

Based in an abandoned GM parts plant in northeast Ohio, Lordstown Motors hopes to be the anchor of what it calls “Voltage Valley”, a hub for manufacturing electric vehicles and batteries.

Speaking at Thursday’s event, Lordstown’s CEO Steve Burns touted the engine’s innovative design in the Endurance hub.

Rather than a traditional powertrain, the Endurance uses hub motors that independently power each wheel – a design that has been used in heavy machinery and military equipment, but never in a commercial passenger vehicle.

“Even a Model T had 700 moving parts in its transmission. We have four, ”said Burns, touting the simple yet powerful design.

“We will have the best traction of any pickup truck ever made. We will be the safest pickup truck ever made, ”said Burns.

Lordstown is already taking orders from fleet customers for its $ 52,000 Endurance

Lordstown is already taking orders from fleet customers for its $ 52,000 Endurance

Rather than a traditional drive train, Endurance uses hub motors that independently power each wheel

Rather than a traditional drive train, the Endurance uses hub motors that independently power each wheel

“We will have the best traction of any pickup truck ever made. We will be the safest pickup truck ever made, ”said Burns

“We will have the best traction of any pickup truck ever made. We will be the safest pickup truck ever made, ”said Burns

The Endurance will have a range of 250 miles per charge, a towing capacity of 7,500 pounds and a maximum power of 600 hp

The Endurance will have a range of 250 miles per charge, a towing capacity of 7,500 pounds and a maximum power of 600 hp

To fulfill Burns' wish to market the first electric pickup, it will have to run on a very tight schedule

To fulfill Burns’ wish to market the first electric pickup, it will have to run on a very tight schedule

The Endurance will have a range of 250 miles per charge, a towing capacity of 7,500 pounds and a peak power of 600 hp.

Earlier this week, Lordstown announced that its first fleet customer, after Servepro, a fire and water company, had signed a letter of intent to purchase 1,200 Endurance electric vans. The vehicles will be delivered in early 2021 when large-scale production begins.

Also on Thursday, Goodyear Tire & Rubber announced a strategic relationship with Lordstown Motors and announced that it will acquire new Endurance vehicles for its fleet. Pence said Lordstown sold 14,000 vehicles.

“For the people we sell to, the fleets, cost is king,” said Burns, noting that the lifetime costs of Endurance beat competitors to combustion when fuel costs are factored in.

To fulfill Burns’ wish to put the first electric pickup on the market, it will have to run on a very tight schedule.

GM plans to build its first electric pickup truck in 2021. Tesla plans to start building its electric Cybertruck in 2021, while Nikola Corp plans to build an electric truck by 2022.

The electric vehicle start-up Rivian plans to build an electric van from the end of 2020, while Ford will launch an electric F-150 truck in 2022.

All will compete for a share of the pickup truck market in the United States, where last year 2.5 million full-size pickup trucks were sold, according to data from Kelley Blue Book.

The Lordstown, Ohio plant is in a former GM parts factory that closed in early 2017

The Lordstown, Ohio plant is in a former GM parts factory which closed in early 2017

Facility hopes to produce up to 60,000 electric trucks per year when production reaches full scale

Facility hopes to produce up to 60,000 electric trucks per year when production reaches full scale

New Endurance pickup truck is seen driving inside the company's Ohio plant

The new Endurance pickup truck is seen driving inside the company’s Ohio plant

Independent motors will power each endurance wheel, an innovative design seen in this sketch

Independent motors will power each endurance wheel, an innovative design seen in this sketch

Designers are seen working with a clay model of the new Endurance pickup

Designers are seen working with a clay model of the new Endurance pickup

The sprawling fate of the former GM factory became a political lightning rod after the largest US automaker announced its planned closure in November 2018, leading to the conviction of President Donald Trump and many American lawmakers.

On Thursday, Trump’s alleged rival rival in the November elections, former Vice President Joe Biden, said that “Trump and GM have abandoned union workers in Ohio.” The campaign quoted a 2017 Trump speech in Youngstown, Ohio, in which Trump said the jobs “were all coming back” and urged residents: “Don’t move. Don’t sell your house.

As early as 2016, the GM plant employed 4,500 workers. Its closure in March 2019 was devastating for the region. To date, Lordstown Motors has only hired 70 employees and approximately 100 contractors.

Lordstown Motors, 10% owned by Workhorse Group, purchased the old plant and GM equipment for $ 20 million as part of its ambitious plan to start delivering electric vans to customers by the end of the year – a target that has since been postponed to January.

Democratic President of the State David Pepper called Pence’s visit “a photo shoot” in an area where Trump has not delivered on 1,700 GM workers displaced by the closure of the old factory.

GM has since built a battery plant near the Lordstown site, employing 1,100 workers.

US Democratic Representative Tim Ryan, who represents the Mahoning Valley, said he welcomed Pence to the region and asked for the administration’s commitment to build a robust electric vehicle market there.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, said he and first lady Fran DeWine will not be visiting Pence on Thursday because they are avoiding crowds because of the coronavirus.

He said in a briefing with reporters that he did not ask Pence to wear a mask, as advised by the state health department.

“I’m not going to tell the vice president what to do,” he said, “but this is how we all stay safe and help each other. “

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