Ohio-based electric truck maker Lordstown Motors revealed today Daniel Ninivaggi is its new chief executive officer. The former Icahn Enterprises CEO spent much of his career with automotive suppliers and other transportation companies.
Ninivaggi, who helmed Federal Mogul Holdings as it was sold to Tenneco Inc. in 2018, is currently chairman of the board for Garrett Motion Inc., which produces turbochargers. He’s also held roles with Motorola Mobility, Navistar International and Hertz Global Holdings.
Some of those companies faced tough times recently — experiences that may serve him well in his new role with Lordstown, which has reportedly been on the verge of financial collapse for some time.
That was until recently when the electric pickup company revealed it secured $400 million in new funding from a hedge fund.
Timing is everything
New Jersey-based Yorkville Advisors Global LP, through its YA II PN Ltd fund, not only agreed to infuse $400 million into the much-maligned EV maker, but it also agreed to not engage in any short sales of the stock, nor will it hedge the shares. That said, it can sell the stock in the next three years under certain conditions.
Prior to Yorkville’s arrival, there was speculation the company didn’t have enough funding to make it to the production phase of development — a notion refuted by company executives, sort of.
In June, just days after the company’s founder and former CEO Steve Burns resigned, newly appointed President Rich Schmidt attempted to reassure everyone the company was in better shape than many believed. He said the company had enough “binding” orders to keep it running for all of 2021 and through May 2022.
“Those are firm orders we have for those two years,” he said.
Schmidt also confirmed production would begin, as planned, at the end of September with the first production-ready vehicle set to be delivered in 2021. Three days later, the company recanted Schmidt’s earlier statements during the meeting, saying the company had no “binding orders” in a filing with the SEC.
That was followed up by news that federal prosecutors just opened an investigation into the battery-electric truck maker and some of the claims it’s made as well as its reverse merger. The query is ongoing.
A new leader with a new outlook
Despite those bumps in the road, the company has soldiered on, including hosting a media day at its plant in the Buckeye State. The event didn’t seem to answer too many questions, however, it did give some a chance to at least see the vehicles up close.
Ninivaggi, who is no longer affiliated with Icahn Enterprises or its sometimes controversial leader, Carl Icahn, is looking to right the ship, or this case, maybe get the truck in the right lane.
“I believe the demand for full-size electric pickup trucks will be strong and the Endurance truck, with its innovative wheel hub motor design, has the opportunity to capture a meaningful share of the market,” said Daniel Ninivaggi, Lordstown Motors CEO.
“With an absolute focus on execution, I look forward to working with the talented Lordstown management team, our suppliers and other partners to bring the Endurance to market and maximize the value of our assets.”