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Lordstown Motors exits San Felipe 250 early, underestimates energy usage

Lordstown Motors recently entered its electric Endurance pickup truck in the SCORE San Felipe 250 race, only to have to drop out after stage one. Although the Endurance truck and its components withstood the elements, the Lordstown team admitted its pre-race estimates for energy consumption were wrong, and the EV prototype would likely not make it through stage two.

In an official statement in February, US automaker Lordstown Motors ($RIDE) announced it had entered its Endurance Beta skateboard in the 2021 SCORE International San Felipe 250. The single-loop race takes place entirely in the town of San Felipe in Baja California, Mexico.

Lordstown Motors x the SCORE San Felipe 250

The San Felipe 250 is considered a grueling and punishing race course for all types of vehicles. Lordstown Motors hoped to prove its electric Endurance pickup was not only safe and efficient, but also tough on any terrain. Lordstown’s CEO Steve Burns said the following during the entry announcement:

We feel that it is quite a significant milestone for the electric vehicle community that an electric pickup truck can compete in an environment as demanding as Baja California.

Our goal is to be the first electric vehicle to ever complete the San Felipe 250, and with the superior traction, weight balance and advanced software control of our hub motor-based Endurance, we are confident that we will do just that.

Unfortunately, that was not the case. The true demand of the San Felipe terrain became apparent for Lordstown Motors after the first 40 miles of the race. During a recharge after stage one, the Endurance team analyzed its data, and realized it had underestimated the toll the desert environment would take on its EV. An official statement from the automaker explains:

In our pre-race estimates, we assumed a 3X energy usage compared to normal road conditions at 200 ft. elevation. Following stage 1, however, our data showed consumption at 4 times the normal level. As we recharged for stage 2, we concluded that the next leg – more than 65 miles at net 1,750 ft. elevation – could result in our vehicle stopping in the middle of mountainous terrain with no viable or accessible charging options, so we decided not to send the vehicle back out on the course. 

If at first you don’t succeed…

Although Lordstown’s race had ended for the day, the automakers continued off-road testing for an additional 10 miles to gather as much data as possible. The company says it’s very pleased with the vehicle’s performance and the data it has gathered so far. Lordstown also revealed that it plans to return to San Felipe next year for another go of it:

We tip our cap to Baja and the tough terrain and we look forward to next year. We expected to be pushed to the limit and we were not disappointed. We will continue to push our vehicle and our team to the limits because that is what it takes to successfully develop the level of market-changing innovation to which we are committed.

Lastly, Lordstown Motors released a video of CEO Steve Burns speaking about the San Felipe race and the Endurance’s early exit. You can view that video here:

Electrek’s Take

Failure is part of innovation and in many ways should be celebrated. Good on Lordstown Motors for trying to push the boundaries of what an EV can do, especially in a nascent model like the electric pickup truck.

The Endurance team knew San Felipe was going to be treacherous, but even they were caught off guard by how much energy its prototype required just to get through the first 40 miles. Back to the drawing board, as the saying goes. At least they’ll be returning with a ton of data to analyze.

What makes this early exit not a travesty is the transparency regarding the exit and the strategy to release an official statement and a video from the CEO. It’s almost as if Lordstown is familiar with PR nightmares and damage control.

It’s cool that Lordstown Motors tried (and failed) to tackle the San Felipe 250. At the very least it has garnered some publicity that’s not all bad. However, a big question on consumers’ minds now is how similar this desert prototype is to the consumer version of Endurance.

Lordstown said the four hub motors performed great and demonstrated superior traction, but this is still relatively unproven tech. Furthermore, will any of the shortcomings discovered in Baja California delay the delivery of the Endurance pickup even further? No answers on that yet, but check back with Electrek soon.

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Scooter Doll is a writer, designer and tech enthusiast born in Chicago and based on the West Coast. When he’s not offering the latest tech how tos or insights, he’s probably watching Chicago sports.
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