The ousted founder of bankrupt EV startup Lordstown Motors has launched a new company called LandX Motors, that prominently displays the same electric pickup truck he once promised would beat Tesla, Ford and General Motors to market.
Steve Burns, a self-described "serial entrepreneur," bought most of the remaining assets of his former startup late last year as part of the Lordstown's Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, including a large chunk of its electric pickup trucks. On a new website for LandX Motors, he says this company will chart "the future of mobility," and claims he will build a whole lineup of vehicles on the platform that underpins what used to be called the Endurance. While LandX Motors doesn't explicitly refer to the trucks as the Endurance, a video on the website shows EV trucks that have the Lordstown badge.
A person familiar with the company's plans told TechCrunch that it's not so much about the Endurance truck, but the underlying platform, software and engineering behind it. Still, with the former Lordstown trucks playing a starring role on company's website and video, it's unclear just how developed this plan is.
What's not made clear on the website is how Burns plans to crack some of the biggest problems that Lordstown Motors never solved. Crucially, Lordstown Motors executives said in the months before filing for bankruptcy protection that the cost to build the Endurance far exceeded the $60,000 retail price. The company also doesn't say where, or how, it plans to build the trucks. A LandX Motors spokesperson responded to an email, but didn't provide any further information and declined to answer questions.
This isn't the first time that Burns has started a new electric vehicle company with ties to an old one. He founded Lordstown Motors in 2019 after leaving a different struggling EV startup, Workhorse. He struck a deal with that company to license the designs for a pickup truck project that became the Endurance.
He then purchased a shuttered GM factory in Lordstown, Ohio, and took Lordstown Motors public in a merger with a special purpose acquisition company in 2020.
By early 2021, Lordstown Motors was under federal investigation for misleading investors during the merger process about how many orders it had secured for the Endurance. Burns and then-chief financial officer Julio Rodriguez resigned after the company's own internal probe determined that they had, in fact, made misleading statements.
The startup struggled and ultimately sold the factory to iPhone maker Foxconn. The Taiwanese electronics giant started building Endurance trucks in late 2022, but they were quickly recalled, and the two companies had a falling out. Lordstown filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2023. The Securities and Exchange Commission recently said in court filings that it is seeking $45 million from the company for "violations of federal securities laws."
Burns made tens of millions of dollars selling Lordstown stock during all of this. Late last year, he purchased the Lordstown assets for about $10 million through a holding company called LAS Capital, which has investments in three other startups.
The new startup is a reunion even beyond the truck. Of the 16 employees who list LandX Motors as their employer on LinkedIn, 13 of them used to work at Lordstown Motors. Duane Hughes, the executive who replaced Burns at Workhorse in 2019 (and was replaced in 2021 amid that startup's own struggles), is on the paperwork filed with the state of Michigan. (Julio Rodriguez is also now the chief financial officer of LAS Capital.)
"I believed then, and I believe even more today, in what we built at Lordstown. That’s why I bought back the assets and rehired most of the engineering team," Burns told Autoweek in December.