California EV startup Canoo announced Thursday that it plans to build its electric vehicles at a new factory to be built outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The startup claims the facility will create “more than 2,000 jobs” and that it will open in 2023.
The facility will be built on a 400-acre site at the MidAmerica Industrial Park complex in Pryor, Oklahoma. It will house a paint shop, body shop, and general assembly plant, according to Canoo, which is calling the facility a “mega microfactory.”
But since Canoo wants to put its first vehicle — an electric van first announced in 2019 — into production by the end of 2022, it will have the first units built by a contract manufacturer in the Netherlands called VDL Nedcar. Canoo says VDL Nedcar will build “up to 1,000 vehicles” for both the US and European markets in 2022 and is targeting 15,000 vehicles in 2023.
Canoo, which went public at the end of 2020 and raised around $600 million in the process, also plans to build an electric delivery vehicle that is adaptable for other small business use cases, as well as an electric pickup truck. All three vehicles are built on the same compact platform, which houses the battery pack, the motors, and pretty much all of the electronics. While a number of automakers and suppliers are developing EV platforms, Canoo’s compact packaging drew interest from Hyundai and Apple — though a deal with Hyundai is now dead, and talks with Apple broke down.
Tony Aquila, who took over as CEO of Canoo earlier this year, said in a statement that the startup ran a “multi-state competition and invested millions of dollars to find the right manufacturing facility.”
Oklahoma — and the city of Tulsa, in particular — waged a massive, meme-filled campaign to try to convince Tesla to build its Cybertruck factory there in 2020, though it ultimately lost out to Austin, Texas. The state “literally threw everything on the table” to woo Tesla, including trying to match the $1.3 billion incentive package that the Silicon Valley automaker landed for its original Gigafactory outside Reno, Nevada.
While Oklahoma lost the fight for Tesla’s business, many of the people involved in that solicitation process said last year that they believed being in the running was worth it just to get on the radar of other automakers. On Thursday, officials from the state said that effort had paid off.
“We have made electric vehicle manufacturing a top priority in our recruitment efforts as we work to further diversify Oklahoma’s economy,” Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development Scott Mueller said in a statement. “Governor Stitt and I were able to work closely with Tony and his team over the last several months and showed the entire Canoo team the many merits of doing business in Oklahoma, including the value of the collaborative effort between great leaders like Tony and the senior leadership of our state.”
During an investor event in Texas on Thursday, Aquila said that the total incentive package is “over $300 million.” The state of Oklahoma may kick in “millions more” based on whether Canoo hits or exceeds a target of hiring military veterans to make up 10 percent of the workforce at the facility. “It’s a pretty good deal,” he said.
The governor’s office confirmed that Canoo will receive some funds through the state’s Quick Action Closing Fund incentive program, but did not specify an amount.
“We aren’t able to disclose the exact incentives due to confidentiality and competitive reasons, but the governor is grateful to the Legislature for having the foresight to authorize a number of incentive packages via statute to help recruit companies like Canoo including the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund, the Quality Jobs Program, a 5-year ad valorem exemption, the Oklahoma Investment/New Jobs Tax Credit and the Automotive Engineer Workforce Tax Credit,” Charlie Hannema, the communications chief for Governor Stitt.
A spokesperson for Oklahoma’s commerce department declined to comment.