Lordstown, Ohio – Lordstown Motors’ Endurance pickup will use motors embedded in its four wheels when the product launches next year, and the startup automaker has licensed a compact, high-power design that it plans to build at the plant alongside the trucks.
Slovenian hub motor maker Elaphe Propulsion Technologies’ L1500 hub motor includes an integrated disc brake and caliper and can produce nearly 150hp and 1,100 lb-ft of torque per motor. The company will develop a specialized L-1500 Endurance model for Lordstown, and the automaker will make those at the former General Motors Chevy Cruze plant in Ohio where it plans to make pickups.
“Our relationship with Elaphe goes back over a decade, and their commitment to Lordstown Motors Corp. and passion for the Lordstown Endurance is stronger than ever,” said Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns. “The caliber of work they’ve produced is some of the best and most innovative in the industry; we’re proud of the work we’ve done together up to this point and enthusiastic about what’s to come.”
Burns previously worked with Elaphe with electric drone and truck design company Workhorse which used a hub-motor-powered electric vehicle (EV) design in its pitch to update the U.S. Postal Service fleet. The postal service has delayed awarding any contracts for that project, and budget problems for the federal agency could lead to further delays.
Initial set-up of the 20,000ft2 production line, which Elaphe will help manage and support, has already begun, and while the project will take 9 months to get to full production capacity, Lordstown will begin using the new lines within the next 6 months for beta testing and pre-production vehicles. Every
“While most vehicle manufacturers are focusing merely on catching up and competing with legacy electric powertrain technologies pioneered decades ago by pure-EV OEMs, Lordstown is making a giant leap forward by building its vehicles around the needs of their users and not around the traditional powertrain-integration-imposed tradeoffs,” says Gorazd Lampič, Elaphe CEO. “We strongly believe that the packaging, modularity, redundancy and advanced functions of vehicle control that Elaphe hub motors enable are key to delivering torque in the way a true 4WD should be done.”
In addition to providing the technology for the in-wheel hub motors, Elaphe will also provide engineering support, technical assistance and consulting services throughout the project. Financial terms are not being disclosed.
In a recent interview, Burns said the decision to use hub motors instead of one large motor and a transmission to send power to the wheels led to some design changes for the Endurance. The wheels are larger than designers initially envisioned, and the floor of the truck is flatter.
The idea of using in-wheel motors has bounced around the auto industry for decades with little progress. While heavy and more expensive than one large motor, motors in the wheels eliminate mechanical complexity by slashing the number of components needed for a working vehicle. Transmissions disappear as do the differential, steering system pumps, and much of the suspension. All-wheel drive effectively comes free (and several automakers have considering added small hub motors to traditional vehicles to support that option), and independently controlling the spin rate of each wheel could allow extremely tight turning circles.
Lordstown plans to launch the Endurance early next year. Plans for a 2020 launch were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.