(Bloomberg) — Lordstown Motors Corp. shares plummeted after the electric-vehicle maker once hailed by former US President Donald Trump for saving automaking jobs filed for bankruptcy.
Most Read from Bloomberg
The move to seek Chapter 11 protection from creditors follows a protracted dispute with iPhone maker Foxconn Technology Group over a deal to make pickup trucks for Lordstown at an assembly plant in Ohio. The Taiwanese manufacturer had said it was prepared to pull out of their production partnership, prompting the EV startup to warn it could fail if it was unable to resolve the conflict.
Lordstown shares declined as much as 60% in US premarket trading after closing Monday at $2.77, valuing the company at just $44 million. The stock traded at more than $400 as recently as early 2021.
The company’s demise caps several torrid years for EV startups that reached sky-high valuations following reverse mergers, only to fall victim to brutal corrections. In its filing, Lordstown listed as much as $500 million of both assets and liabilities. It doesn’t have any debt.
Foxconn agreed in November to invest as much as $170 million in Lordstown and take two board seats. The deal gave the EV maker much-needed capital while offering the Taiwanese manufacturer a firmer foothold in automotive production.
As part of the deal, Foxconn bought the former General Motors Co. factory in Lordstown, Ohio, from the startup, and planned to make Lordstown’s Endurance pickup under a contract agreement. The arrangement began to unravel in January, when Lordstown asked Foxconn to suspend production because the cost of making the truck exceeded its targeted sale price of $65,000, and said it would need another partner beyond Foxconn to share costs.
A Foxconn representative couldn’t provide immediate comments when contacted by Bloomberg about the case.
Read More: Foxconn Finds EVs Are Harder to Build Than iPhones and Tablets
The bankruptcy filing follows Lordstown going through several crises, including fighting off short-seller claims and a Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry about inflated vehicle pre-orders.
The Ohio plant also became the scene of a political standoff after GM’s decision in 2018 to cease production there. The move was a blow to then-President Trump, who a year earlier discouraged rally-goers from selling their homes in the area because of all the jobs he said he would bring back. Democrats seized on the development as a symbol of unfulfilled promises made to voters in a key battleground state.
While Lordstown’s bankruptcy may mean Foxconn loses one customer, the company still owns the manufacturing facility that will help with its ambition to offer EV manufacturing services in North America. Foxconn has targeted a 5% share of the global EV market by 2025.
–With assistance from Allison McNeely, Sean O’Kane, Janine Phakdeetham and Claire Boston.
(Updates with share price move in third paragraph, background on Foxconn)
Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.