Nikola Motor Breaks Ground On Factory In Coolidge, Arizona
Arizona-based Nikola Motor celebrated breaking ground on its new 1,000,000 square foot factory this morning with a small COVID-friendly event. The event was well-attended by Nikola leadership, including CEO Mark Russell, Mark Duchesne, global head of manufacturing, and local supporters including Coolidge Mayor Jon Thompson.
When complete, the new Nikola Factory in Coolidge is expected to support 1,800 new full-time employees and bring an estimated $600 million in construction-related capital spending to the region. The first phase of construction on the nearly 430 acre property for the new factory will wrap up in late 2021 with a second phase already planned. The second phase of construction is scheduled to wrap up by mid-2023.
The first Nikola-branded trucks will be produced by partner company IVECO in Ulm, Germany. The first Nikola trucks to come off the lines of IVECO’s lines in Ulm will be the battery electric Nikola Tre, with the first hydrogen fuel cell trucks slated for production in 2023.
The new Coolidge, Arizona factory will be Nikola’s first wholly-owned factory and will produce the Nikola Two and Nikola Tre class 8 trucks for North American customers. At full capacity, the factory would be able to produce nearly 35,000 trucks per year when running two shifts.
Nikola boasts that, “the future 4.0 designed facility will incorporate the latest technology to increase connectivity 24/7 throughout the building and equipment to optimize overall energy, productivity and quality.”
That’s a lot of manufacturing tech jargon, as most manufacturing unit ops these days come with screens, operating systems, connectivity, and networking equipment, but it’s clear Nikola is attempting to build this brand new factory with modern equipment and solutions. We’ll have to wait until we get more detail on the production equipment itself to see what specific improvements to expect, and more importantly, what equipment in the factory will be owned and operated by Nikola versus partner companies.
“The reason our company exists is in support of a sustainable future so everything we do in our manufacturing process and our building site will be done to ensure the smallest environmental footprint possible,” said Mark Duchesne, Nikola global head of manufacturing.
We have the solutions needed to clean up transportation emissions, but tackling manufacturing emissions is a completely different ballgame. Often, the solutions needed to build and operate a zero emissions factory simply don’t exist. I’m cautiously optimistic about the emissions from the factory, but it would be great to see something more concrete: a commitment to a zero emission factory at startup, to purchase or produce renewable electricity, to not burn any fossil fuels at the plant, etc.
For Nikola Motor, this is where the rubber meets the road, and the first time the company shifts from ideas, concepts, prototypes, and whiteboards to shovels, rebar, concrete, and steel. From here on forward, Nikola has the opportunity to truly bring its vision of bringing zero emission vehicles to customers around the world to life, or to die trying. Now is the time for the blood, sweat, and tears and we, for one, are pulling for Nikola Motor to silence the critics once and for all.
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