Elec­tric car fac­tory planned in Ari­zona to have 2,000 work­ers

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

Elec­tric car maker Lu­cid Mo­tors said Tues­day it will build a man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Ari­zona that will be­gin pro­duc­tion in 2018 as it looks to com­pete in the fast­grow­ing mar­ket for lux­ury elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

The com­pany said it chose the Casa Grande lo­ca­tion from dozens of other spots around the coun­try. Con­struc­tion of the fac­tory will be­gin next year in a move ex­pected to bring an ini­tial 400 jobs. The com­pany pro­jects the plant will have 2,000 work­ers by 2022.

Lu­cid, which re­cently changed its name from Atieva, has been around for a decade, fo­cus­ing its early years on mak­ing bat­ter­ies. Its staff in­cludes for­mer Tesla em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing its chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer.

The de­ci­sion came amid ris­ing de­mand for elec­tric cars from tra­di­tional au­tomak­ers and Sil­i­con Val­ley star­tups such as Lu­cid. Tesla Mo­tors is build­ing a sprawl­ing bat­tery fac­tory near Reno, Ne­vada, af­ter re­ceiv­ing a gen­er­ous $1.3 bil­lion in­cen­tive pack­age from the Ne­vada Leg­is­la­ture.

Fara­day Fu­ture, an­other elec­tric car maker, is build­ing a fac­tory near Las Ve­gas af­ter get­ting $335 mil­lion from the state, although the project has been stalled amid questions about its fund­ing source.

Au­to­mo­tive jobs took on a prom­i­nent role in the re­cent pres­i­den­tial race as Donald Trump re­peat­edly blasted trade agree­ments that shifted man­u­fac­tur­ing from the Rust Belt to other coun­tries.

Ari­zona Gov. Doug Ducey has made job cre­ation and a busi­ness-friendly cli­mate top pri­or­i­ties of his ad­min­is­tra­tion. He pre­vi­ously made a trip to Cal­i­for­nia to lure the Lu­cid fac­tory. “It’s a real sign that the state is at­trac­tive, that Cal­i­for­nia com­pa­nies and com­pa­nies from around the coun­try see Ari­zona as a great place to do busi­ness,” Ducey said.

Lu­cid is re­ceiv­ing gov­ern­ment as­sis­tance from the Ari­zona Com­merce Au­thor­ity that could to­tal in the mil­lions. The fu­ture for startup elec­tric ve­hi­cle mak­ers is far from a sure thing, es­pe­cially for com­pa­nies that have yet to man­u­fac­ture a sin­gle car, said Sam Abuel­samid, a se­nior an­a­lyst for the mar­ket re­search firm Nav­i­gant who has stud­ied Lu­cid and met with com­pany ex­ec­u­tives. He cites a litany of chal­lenges.

Tesla has strug­gled to turn a profit de­spite huge de­mand for its Model X and more af­ford­able Model 3. Ve­hi­cle re­li­a­bil­ity is a ma­jor con­cern for any new car maker, es­pe­cially in a mar­ket­place where tra­di­tional au­tomak­ers are man­u­fac­tur­ing their own elec­tric ve­hi­cles. And bat­tery tech­nol­ogy is highly ex­pen­sive.

“We’ll see if Lu­cid can do it any bet­ter than Tesla has,” Abuel­samid said. “The car’s not go­ing to be in pro­duc­tion un­til quite a ways out. I wouldn’t call it en­tirely pa­per­work at this point be­cause they do have real, de­vel­oped pro­to­types but it’s cer­tainly not ready for prime time yet.”

He also noted how star­tups are at the mercy of in­vestors who can be­come skit­tish about hand­ing over cash. He cited the Fara­day plant in Ne­vada where con­struc­tion work was sus­pended re­cently at the fac­tory site. Abuel­samid said the Chi­nese en­tre­pre­neur back­ing that com­pany was also an early in­vestor in Lu­cid.

A news con­fer­ence an­nounc­ing the move Tues­day fea­tured busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers along with top com­pany of­fi­cials. The com­pany showed off two pro­to­types for its planned car. “We’re very ex­cited to be bring­ing new jobs and our in­no­va­tive tech­nol­ogy to Casa Grande,” said Brian Bar­ron, Lu­cid’s di­rec­tor of global man­u­fac­tur­ing. — AP

LORDSTOWN, Ohio: In this Tues­day, June 15, 2010, file photo, work­ers at Gen­eral Mo­tors’ Lordstown As­sem­bly plant put the fi­nal touches on Chevy Cobalts. — AP

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