By Conrad Dudderar
A new electric vehicle assembly facility will create hundreds of jobs in eastern Canadian County.
Canoo, an American automotive startup, recently delivered its first “Made in Oklahoma” electric vehicle (EV) to the state government as part of an agreement to deliver up to 1,000 vehicles.
The company’s lifestyle delivery vehicles (LDVs) are the first commercial motor vehicles to be built in Oklahoma since 2006. Canoo also manufactures multi-purpose delivery vehicles (MPDVs) and pickup trucks.
Canoo CEO Tony Aquila discussed hiring, production and deliveries during a Nov. 15th tour of his company’s 630,000-square-foot facility, off Interstate 40 just east of Morgan Road in west Oklahoma City. Terex manufacturing company previously occupied the site.
“By the end of this year, we’ll bring 120 jobs to this site,” Aquila said. “As the site continues to ramp to its run rate, it will grow to about 700.”
Reporters from The Yukon Progress and The Mustang Times were among members of the press who came to experience the Canoo vehicles and see the operation.
Canoo has teams in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Michigan, and California.
The company is hiring for its facilities in both Oklahoma City and Pryor, expecting to create more than 1,300 jobs.
More growth is planned at the eastern Canadian County facility after Canoo bought land along the I-40 frontage road.
“We’ll be able to add buildings and bring more and more of the activities from other states into the state of Oklahoma,” Aquila explained. “(Our goal is to be) much more self-reliant and to be able to have an interchangeable workforce that is working here in Oklahoma.”
Canoo manufactures and delivers EV fleet vehicles for large customers that include the U.S. military, NASA, the State of Oklahoma, and Walmart.
“Canoo’s mission is to bring EVs to everyone,” according to the company’s website. “The company has developed breakthrough multi-purpose platforms and digital ecosystems that are reinventing the automotive landscape with bold innovations in design, pioneering technologies, and a unique business model that spans the full lifecycle of the vehicle.
“Distinguished by its experienced team from leading technology and automotive companies – Canoo has designed a modular electric platform purpose-built to deliver maximum vehicle interior space that is customizable across all owners in the vehicle lifecycle to support a wide range of vehicle applications for consumers and businesses.”
MAKING AN INVESTMENT
Gov. Kevin Stitt and other state officials offered incentives to entice Canoo to come to Oklahoma, including $15 million from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund. The company must meet performance benchmarks to receive the funds.
“We still have never taken a dollar from the State of Oklahoma,” Aquila emphasized. “But we’ve invested a lot in the state. The way the governor has put this deal together, we have to perform to get a payment. But it’s money we already spent.
“We know we shouldn’t get (state funding) if we don’t prove it.”
Canoo’s CEO was asked how much workers are paid at the new Oklahoma City manufacturing facility.
“The range for this early phase is between $18 and $26 (per hour), growing to the $30s and so on – depending on the task, the work, and their training and development,” he replied.
As Canoo ramps up its Oklahoma operation, the demand for these electric vehicles is higher than the company’s ability to deliver. Price range is $50,000-$60,000.
Canoo officials showed reporters the first three EVs among 1,000 ordered by the State of Oklahoma.
“We’ll continue to deliver vehicles to the state, so you’ll be seeing them around,” CEO Aquila said. “We’ll probably turn these (first three) over to the state sometime in early January.”
Miles per charge on the current configuration run between 200 and 250, depending on the way the vehicle is driven and the payload.
“But the software is designed to reduce horsepower, so that you can increase your distance and longevity,” Aquila noted. “It’s very mission centric.
“It’s all our own IT and we have greater density than others today on the market. So, we get a lot more energy.”