The Polaris Slingshot line has a new top dog. The Signature LE is a flashy, modern-looking model that focuses more on performance than looks. Crimson Forge is the only exterior color option currently available. This is a first for the model. It covers the ‘Shot in a tri-tone paint job, which features metallic black and red along with limited-edition bronze accents. The wheels are the most prominent accents. They feature tasty bronze multi-spokes that fit the twin 18-inchers in the front and one 20-inch wheel at the back. Outside, vented fenders are complemented by full LED lighting. The vented fiberglass hood was introduced for the model year 2022. The black hood is adorned with dark badges that support the aggressive attitude.
An XKGlow light kit makes the cockpit shine night and day. The LED units glow in full RGB across the center console, under the seats, and in the footwells. The Slingshot app allows you to customize the pulsations. One trick is to match them with sounds from Stage 3 Rockford Fosgate’s audio system. It’s strange that Polaris didn’t include lighting controls on the Ride Command touchscreen (7-inch), but the infotainment hub allows for navigation with weather and traffic as well as Apple CarPlay. The luxury side of the equation is climate-controlled seats with contrast red stitching that add warmth to an open cockpit without traditional HVAC.
This engine is the base unit of the Slingshot, a 2.0-liter ProStar four cylinder with 178 horsepower. It also has 120 lb-ft. Buyers who desire the Slingshot SLR or R trims with 203 horsepower can purchase the $599 Stage 1 tune at Polaris. However, they will still be less than the other trims’ respective 144 lbft.
Dealers will soon be able to purchase the Slingshot Signature Le. The price starts at $34,999, plus a $900 “logistics fee,” making it total $35,899. This figure is increased to $37.649 by adding the five-speed AutoDrive transmission.
Lordstown Motors, and its post
Some of the public electric vehicle startup mergers with SPACs have been difficult over the past month. Canoo, Electric Last Mile Solutions, and Lordstown Motors all saw key personnel go, and all three are currently under investigation by U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Chuan Vo, an ex-Tesla engineer and head of propulsion, died in Lordstown. This is a huge job for an electric vehicle company. He was responsible for developing the electric drive system of the Endurance pickup, which is expected to be in production by the third quarter this year.
Although EV startups can be volatile, Lordstown is forming a management team. Chief Executive Officer Dan Ninivaggi (an ex-colleague of Carl Icahn) joined the company in August after playing a part in the Chapter 11 restructuring at Hertz. Ninivaggi explained to me that the turnover is one of a number of steps he’s taking in the wake of Steve Burns’ vision of EVs largely being made by the company.
Ninivaggi stated that the team was “totally different” during a brief interview after Vo’s departure. “We are bringing in new talent, and we’re changing from a manufacturing company into a product-engineering firm.”
It is hoped that carmaking will be approached more like Apple phones. Foxconn in Taiwan will build the commercial vehicles Ninivaggi’s group develops. Lordstown will do so. Foxconn will own the plants and pay the assemblers, while Lordstown will design and build the vehicles. It makes sense to have someone who is experienced in manufacturing and supply chain management for a startup that is capital-intensive.
In September, the company decided to sell its Lordstown factory in Ohio — which it had purchased from General Motors in 2019, to Foxconn. While the iPhone assembler makes the trucks, Lordstown, a suburban Detroit office, develops future commercial vehicles and vans.
Ninivaggi appointed Edward Hightower, a former Ford Motor and GM executive, to replace Rich Schmidt. Hightower was responsible for the development of GM’s crossover SUV business. This included the Cadillac XT5 as well as Chevy Blazer. Schmidt was previously employed in manufacturing for Tesla, Toyota.
Vo sold stock in February last year and then purchased more shares at a lower price the following month. He was required to repay the company $400,000 he earned by purchasing shares. Lordstown spokeswoman said that Vo did not want to leave, and that it was not the reason he had left. The company doesn’t need anyone to develop propulsion, as the Endurance battery is now complete and future products from Foxconn’s MiH EV platform are already in place. Vo did not respond to an email asking for comment.
SEC investigations have also led to the departure of executives at other EV startup companies. After the board found that they had bought stock at a discount to market price, Vanmaker Electric Last Mile Solutions’ CEO Jim Taylor left and Chairman Jason Luo resigned. This month, four Canoo executives parted ways. Both stocks of the companies are now trading below the $10 per-share price that investors in the SPACs paid for to participate in the respective deals.
Lordstown is also affected by this. Its shares are currently trading below $4. This is the market’s way to say investors want more evidence that Ninivaggi’s plans will work, no matter how sensible.