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Trump checks out new Lordstown Motors truck

CHECKING IT OUT — President Donald J. Trump is joined by Peter Navarro, assistant to the president for trade and manufacturing policy, and U.S. Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, to see the 2021 Endurance electric truck, made by Lordstown Motors Corp., on Monday on the South Lawn of the White House. (Photo Courtesy/White House)

WARREN — President Donald Trump on Monday had the chance to get an up-close look at Lordstown Motors Corp.’s all-electric Endurance, calling the startup automaker’s pickup truck an “incredible piece of science, technology.

“We’ve been working on this very long and very hard,” Trump told a pool of reporters on the South Lawn at the White House. “This is a really unique thing because the four wheels are — hub motor, hub motor — this is the only one that does this in the world. It has a lot of advantages.”

The company announced last week it has 40,000 preorders for the truck that represent, barring cancellations or delays, $2 billion in revenue. It continues to retool its assembly plant, the former General Motors complex in Lordstown, to ready for the start of production in early 2021.

The first deliveries of the truck are targeted for the second half of 2022, and the company hopes to expand production to 100,000 by 2024.

Last month, the company announced a merger with DiamondPeak Holdings Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, in a move that’s expected to infuse $675 million and one that will make Lordstown Motors a publicly traded company.

A rolling prototype of Endurance was revealed in June at the plant at an event attended by Vice President Mike Pence.

“Over the past few months, the Lordstown Endurance has been introduced to potential customers and key stakeholders across the United States, including government officials from both sides of the aisle,” Lordstown Motors spokesman Ryan Hallett said.

On Monday, they were in Washington, D.C., “to discuss opportunities for new jobs and new ways to ensure a clean and prosperous future for all Americans,” he said. Last week, Burns and the truck were in Columbus.

Lordstown Motors acquired the sprawling automaking facility in November 2019 just months after GM shuttered it. The closure drew criticism from Trump and urging from the president on Twitter for GM to reopen or sell the plant.

With Trump were Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns; two of his employees, Rich Schmidt, chief production officer, and Michael Fabian, senior manager stamping operations; Peter Navarro, assistant to the president for trade and manufacturing policy; U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; and U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton.

Portman said the decision to close Lordstown and stop making the Chevrolet Cruze was a “gut-punch” causing 1,500 people to be laid off, but the Mahoning Valley is turning a corner with Lordstown Motors and GM’s joint venture with South Korea’s LG Chem to produce electric-vehicle battery cells in Lordstown. That plant is adjacent to Lordstown Motors’ facility and will employ about 1,100 people.

“The combination of this company and the battery plant will mean we replaced about the same number of workers, but with a really interesting future, which is bringing even more electric vehicle, electric technology companies,” Portman said.

Trump said, “The area was devastated when General Motors moved out. Beyond the plant, it’s incredible what’s happened in the area. It’s booming now. It’s absolutely booming. … It’s an incredible piece of science, technology. It’s going to happen now with more and more trucks. And ultimately they say you’ll be able to do it for less money, and it’s better, which is a good combination.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said he was thrilled to see the company at the White House to show off the high-tech truck.

“The incredible innovation and craftsmanship of the Mahoning Valley was on full display today … I applaud Lordstown Motors in creating an incredible truck and giving our community the opportunity to continue to do what we do best — build world-class vehicles,” Ryan, D-Howland, said.

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