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Lordstown Motors Names New CEO as EV Adoption Moves Beyond Tipping Point

By George Paul

Last updated: Feb 15, 2023

Embattled electric vehicle (EV) startup Lordstown Motors has promoted Edward T. Hightower, the company's President, as its CEO, effective immediately.

Edward T. Hightower. Image courtesy of Lordstown Motors
Edward T. Hightower. Image courtesy of Lordstown Motors

Embattled electric vehicle (EV) startup Lordstown Motors has promoted Edward T. Hightower, the company's President, as its CEO, effective immediately. He replaces Daniel Ninivaggi, who has transitioned to Executive Chairman.

Ninivaggi, who initially joined Lordstown Motors in August 2021 after a scandal ousted then-CEO Steve Burns and CFO Julio Rodriguez, will now focus on corporate strategy, strategic partnerships and capital raising. The last part of Ninivaggi’s duties will grow increasingly important as the company ramps up production of its electric pickup truck, called Endurance.

Following the company’s presale scandal, Lordstown Motors warned that it might not have the cash reserves to bring its vehicles to market. To secure funds, Lordstown Motors signed a deal with investment firm Yorkville Advisors in July 2021, in which the firm agreed to buy $400 million worth of shares over three years. Later, in September 2021, iPhone assembler Foxconn entered into a deal to buy the EV maker’s Ohio assembly plant and certain intellectual property rights for approximately $230 million. As part of the deal, Foxconn also committed to buying $50 million worth of Lordstown Motors shares and has launched a joint venture with the EV maker.

As President and CEO of Lordstown Motors, Hightower will also oversee the Foxconn joint EV venture, called MIH EV Design LLC.

Before joining Lordstown Motors in 2021, Hightower was the Managing Director of Motoring Ventures, an automotive consulting firm and the Executive Chief Engineer and Vehicle Line Executive at GM. He also held senior executive roles at BMW and Ford, where he was the chief engineer for the U.S. automaker’s lineup of SUVs.

In a press release, Ninivaggi said, “With over 30 years of automotive experience and having made significant contributions to the Endurance launch preparation and Foxconn transactions, Edward is the perfect person to lead the company and launch our product development efforts with Foxconn.”

Hightower’s deep automotive experience will be essential as Lordstown Motors looks to capitalize on the growing uptake of EVs, which now account for 5% of new vehicle sales— a statistic regarded as the tipping point for mass adoption.

Alongside the CEO swap, Lordstown Motors also revealed that Dr. Donna Bell, a former Ford executive with 30 years of automotive experience, has been appointed EVP of Product Creation, Engineering and Supply Chain, effective immediately.

Bell’s technical knowledge could be instrumental in helping Lordtown Motors avoid costly manufacturing mistakes and potential recalls as it scales to meet the demand for its trucks. After multiple delays, the company’s Endurance pickup trucks are slated to be delivered to customers by the end of the year.

Lordstown Motors expects commercial production and sales of approximately 500 vehicles in 2022, which could grow to as many as 2,500 units in 2023.

To ensure it hits its order numbers, the EV maker has named Andrew Reyntjes, a 30-year veteran of the automotive and commercial fleet industry, as its SVP of Sales, Service and Marketing. Reyntjes will likely inherit many of the responsibilities of Chief Commercial Officer Jane Ritson-Parsons, who will transition out of her role to become an advisor to the company.

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