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The electric-vehicle startup that acquired General Motors Co.'s idled Lordstown Assembly plant in northeast Ohio is moving forward with a motor production line that could be in operation within six months, despite challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lordstown Motors Corp. on Tuesday said it made an exclusive licensing agreement with Slovenia-based Elaphe Propulsion Technologies Ltd. Elaphe will develop the electric motor for Lordstown's first primarily commercial vehicle, the $52,500 Endurance pickup. The motorwill be made by the automaker's own employees from the Mahoning Valley community that Lordstown hopes to help revitalize.

“Our relationship with Elaphe goes back over a decade, and their commitment to Lordstown Motors Corp. and passion for the Lordstown Endurance is stronger than ever,” Lordstown CEO Steve Burns, co-founder of Cinncinnati's electric vehicle manufacturer, Workhorse Group Inc., said in a statement. “The caliber of work they’ve produced is some of the best and most innovative in the industry; we’re proud of the work we’ve done together up to this point and enthusiastic about what’s to come.”

The companies did not disclose financial terms of the deal. Set up of the 20,000 square foot production line for the Model L-1500 Endurance In-Wheel Motor has begun. The project will take nine months to grow to full production capacity, but Lordstown will begin using the new lines by December for beta testing and pre-production vehicles.

Burns in April told The Detroit News that the automaker was continuing with its engineering work but holding off on major investments and modifications to the 6.2 million-square-foot plant as the outbreak was delaying funding. He said production of the Endurance was expected to begin in January, a month later than originally slated.

Throughout the project, Elaphe will provide technical assistance in addition to the technology for the four-wheel-drive, in-wheel hub motors. The system reduces the number of moving parts and decreases the cost of the vehicle over its lifetime, according to the automaker. The Endurance packs 600 horsepower.

"Lordstown is making a giant leap forward by building its vehicles around the needs of their users and not around the traditional powertrain-integration-imposed tradeoffs,” Elaphe CEO Gorazd Lampič said in a statement. “We are proud to be part of

what Lordstown is trying to achieve — the evolution of the vehicle into a reliable work tool, a functional workspace and a worker’s best friend in the field.”

bnoble@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble

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