Lordstown Motors taps industry veteran Hightower as CEO in management shuffle

Lordstown Motors taps industry veteran Hightower as CEO in management shuffle

Electric-vehicle firm Lordstown Motors Corp (RIDE.O) replaced its chief executive with insider and automotive industry veteran Edward Hightower on Tuesday in a management shake-up aimed at ramping up efforts to start production of its pickup truck.

Hightower, president of the company since November, takes the reins from Daniel Ninivaggi, who will become executive chairman and focus on partnerships and capital raising.

The former Ford Motor Co (F.N) and General Motors (GM.N) executive takes the helm at a crucial time for the four-year-old company, which plans to start production of its Endurance pickup truck with Foxconn in the third quarter.

Hightower has a track record in making cars and having an engineer at the helm might create an edge for Lordstown, brokerage AJ Bell analyst Danni Hewson said.

“The fact the old boss isn’t leaving the company does ratchet down the tension for investors,” Hewson added.

Shares in the Ohio-based company rose about 3% in early trading.

While demand for electric vehicles has surged globally, supply chain disruptions and rising material costs have made it tough for companies to raise output and meet red-hot demand.

Lordstown Motors has also struggled with funding and had to sell certain assets to Taiwan-based Foxconn in May to secure capital essential for production.

The company was also targeted by short-seller Hindenburg Research last year, which prompted it to launch an internal investigation and later led to the departure of its then CEO and CFO.

In its statement on Tuesday, Lordstown Motors also named Donna Bell, a former Ford Motor Co (F.N) executive with nearly three decades of experience in automotive product development, as its executive vice president of product creation, engineering and supply chain.

Jane Ritson-Parsons, who took over the role of chief commercial officer in November, will become an advisor, it said.

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