Nikola Corp., a global transportation company specializing in zero-emissions and infrastructure solutions, is one step closer to bringing a 1 million square-foot manufacturing facility to the Coolidge area after the company officially broke ground Thursday.
The Arizona facility is expected to generate more than 1,800 new full-time positions and result in about $600 million in new capital expenditures, according to a release.
“This has been an incredible journey for Nikola Corporation. We started in our basement six years ago and now we are kicking off this 1 million-square-foot manufacturing facility,” stated Trevor Milton, founder and executive chairman of Nikola. “The residents of Coolidge will be a huge part of the Nikola story and without the help of Governor Ducey and the Arizona economic development teams, this project would not have been possible in Arizona. These next 12-months will be even more exciting as we see this facility go up and as we add more Arizonans to the Nikola team.”
The ceremony included speakers from Nikola’s executive team — Mr. Milton; Mark Russell, CEO; and Mark Duchesne, global head of manufacturing. Coolidge Mayor Jon Thompson; Chris Camacho, CEO of Greater Phoenix Economic Council; Jackob Andersen, CEO, Saint Holding; and via video, Sandra Watson, president and chief executive officer, Arizona Commerce Authority, also joined in the celebration.
Located off State Route 87 at Houser and Vail roads — about 10 miles south of Coolidge proper — the future 4.0-designed facility sits on roughly 430 acres. It will incorporate the latest technology to increase connectivity 24/7 throughout the building and equipment to optimize overall energy, productivity and quality, according to the release.
“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 while making the highest quality, high tech products that will impact the sustainability of the planet,” Mr. Duchesne stated.
The first phase of construction is scheduled for completion in late 2021, with the second phase projected to be complete within the following 12-18 months, according to the release.
The facility represents a capital investment of about $600 million and will initially produce the Nikola Tre and Nikola Two.
At full production, the facility will reach about 35,000 units annually, running two shifts, the release states. The first Nikola Tre trucks will be produced in Ulm, Germany with partner IVECO, followed shortly after by the Coolidge facility.
“Nikola Corporation will be a welcomed addition to Coolidge providing thousands of jobs while manufacturing environmentally friendly vehicles,” Coolidge Mayor Jon Thompson stated. “We’re proud to be a part of this history paving future in transportation.”
After an 18-month national site search of various locations around the U.S., led by Tom Stringer at BDO and Saint Holdings, Nikola selected Coolidge for its outstanding industrial infrastructure within the region, according to the release. The decision was also further solidified by the tireless support of the state, Pinal County and Coolidge, as well as the breadth of talent, year-round sunshine conducive to renewable energy, and the infrastructure available to scale with the ambitious plans and growth trajectory Nikola has set forth, officials say.
“Arizona is the best state in the nation for cutting-edge companies to make their mark,” Gov. Doug Ducey stated in the release. “Nikola’s new plant in Coolidge will produce its zero-emissions Class 8 semi-trucks and create thousands of new jobs. Congratulations to the Nikola team on breaking ground and I look forward to the continued success.”
Plans originally called for the facility — and the company’s headquarters — to be housed in Buckeye. The move would have brought a reported investment of $1 billion, creating about 2,100 jobs, and it would have been the city’s first major corporate headquarters.
However, in August 2018, Nikola pulled out of the West Valley and instead chose Phoenix for its headquarters and Coolidge for the manufacturing facility.
According to a release, there were numerous factors that led to the decision, primarily relating to changing needs and timeframes.
“The Nikola Motor Company would like to thank the city of Buckeye for all their efforts,” Britton Worthen, chief legal officer for Nikola, stated in 2018. “Their incredible enthusiasm and initial offer played a decisive role in attracting us to Arizona. Due to our expedited timeline, unfortunately that site was no longer viable for us.”
While the city of Buckeye was disappointed with the decision, city officials said they understood and continue to support Nikola as they expand in Arizona.
“Nikola is an excellent company to work with and we wish them much success in Coolidge,” Dave Roderique, Buckeye’s Economic Development Director, stated in 2018. “Thankfully, the company is remaining in Arizona, and will still have positive impacts on the regional economy.”