I’ll say it. It’s about time. Lordstown Motors has named America’s first Black CEO of an automaker. This is a big deal. Speaking to Automotive News about his new position, Edward Hightower seemed excited to get to work on getting Lordstown to (finally) start making some EVs.
While this may not seem important, it is really important. The first-ever Black CEO of a car company was C.R. Patterson, for the company that he started, over 100 years ago. Sure, there have been Black heads of design like GM’s Ed Wilburn and Crystal Windham (who’s the head designer of both the Lyriq and Celestiq) and Stellantis’ Ralph Gilles, and of course engineers, marketing heads etc. But never in charge.
Now back to Hightower, whose past makes him ideal for the position. With a degree in engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from the Michigan School of Business, he’s held various marketing and senior roles at Ford, GM, and BMW before he became president of Lordstown. And he’s a car guy, something that’s refreshing to see in an executive role.
“I’ve grown my career in the automotive industry because I’ve been passionate about it.,” Hightower told Automotive News. “My entire life, I was passionate about cars. Growing up in Chicago, I was good in math and science. So I’m blessed to have the career I’ve had so far. I look forward to continuing it with this transition toward electrification and leading Lordstown.”
Hightower has his work cut out for him though. The last few years have been rough for the EV startup. From lying about how many orders it has, to overblown promises made to a region of the country hungry for jobs, burning through money and still not having a truck available to buy, questionable tech, and even selling its own factory to make money, its been an uphill battle. And Hightower knows just what he’s up against. “I’m very aware of where we are in our preparation towards our launch in the third quarter and our startup sales in the fourth quarter. There’s a lot of midnight oil, if you will, that you’re burning to make sure the vehicle is right for customers,” Hightower said.