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Lordstown Motors seeks state waiver to sell future vehicles directly to consumers in Ohio

Posted at 6:37 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 18:37:22-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Eight months after the Lordstown Endurance made its debut last June with former Vice President Mike Pence riding shotgun, the first 57 prototypes to be used for safety testing are now in production inside the Trumbull County plant.

"I think we're up to about 500 employees and we're headed for 1,500 employees by the time we get to production in September,“ said Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns.

They've got their work cut out for them with the first 100,000 vehicles already pre-ordered by big companies for fleet vehicles. But Lordstown would like to one day be able to sell directly to you, which under Ohio law they currently can't.

As it stands consumers for the most part buy vehicles from traditional auto dealers and not manufacturers. Lordstown wants an exception for this reason, those traditional dealers make most of their money on service, parts, and warranty work. Well, the Endurance doesn't have an engine, it's powered by motors in each of its four wheels so there's not a lot to service.

"With the Endurance, you have a vehicle that has the fewest moving parts of any vehicle ever made, fewer moving parts than even a Model T,” said Lordstown Motors’ Chris Kerzich.

The Ohio Automobile Dealers Association (OADA) though takes exception to that.

“Ohio’s time-proven system of independent and locally-based auto dealers has been fueling local economies and serving consumers for decades,” said Association President Zach Doran.

“Major auto manufacturers, including those with a large Ohio presence such as Honda, Ford, Chrysler, and GM, operate successfully within this system. These manufacturers are also investing heavily in the development and production of electric vehicles, and these vehicles are currently and will continue to be sold by Ohio’s independent auto dealers."

“Lordstown Motors, after deciding to build in Ohio and receiving state tax credits to do so, now seeks an exemption to the law governing the sale of new vehicles."

“Lordstown Motors is a welcome development in Ohio’s rich history of automotive research, innovation, and production. Like other manufacturers, the new company will enjoy great success operating within the scope of Ohio’s current law,” Doran said.

While Lordstown is seeking the carve out the reality is they are in a position just yet to sell direct to consumers with that 100,000 plus order to fill.

"Right now it's going to take us a couple of years to fulfill that demand,” Kerzich said. “And that demand does not even include Federal and state vehicles which those have to go through a procurement process so we are primarily focused right now on meeting the commercial demand that we have."

That being said the thing that makes it maintenance friendly also makes it easier to produce.

"They were putting out about over 400,000 Cruzes a year here when it was GM, we think we can put out about 600,000 of our vehicles because they're much simpler to assemble,” said Burns at the June 2020 reveal.