Automative News

Lordstown CEO was ghosted by Foxconn unit a year before collapse


Lordstown’s tumultuous run began with a surprise announcement, and a mistake. Then-President Donald Trump announced in May 2019 that General Motors would sell the Ohio factory to Workhorse Group Inc., a money-losing EV startup where Burns had once been CEO. “GREAT NEWS FOR OHIO!” he tweeted.

But GM wasn’t in agreement with Workhorse on the sale — it had agreed to sell the plant to the newly created Lordstown Motors.

Burns nonetheless rode the Trump administration’s support — hosting Vice President Mike Pence and visiting the White House — on the way to a public listing in late 2020 via a reverse-merger with DiamondPeak Holdings, a special purpose acquisition company. That raised $675 million to develop the Endurance pickup, which features one small electric motor on each wheel.

Months after the merger, short seller Hindenburg Research published a report accusing Burns of misleading investors, particularly with respect to claims to have accumulated 100,000 pre-orders for the Endurance.

Burns responded by quoting Taylor Swift. “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. You gotta shake it off,” he told local television station WKBN.

The Hindenburg report tipped off the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department, which began probing Lordstown. While neither law enforcement agency announced a conclusion, the company’s own internal investigation found that Burns had indeed made inaccurate statements about pre-orders, and he resigned. In the first sign that the company might not survive, Lordstown issued a going concern warning.

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