Can Lucid, Nikola and ElectraMeccanica turn Arizona into a major electric vehicle manufacturing hub?
“We have the potential to become a massive global leader in emerging auto manufacturing,” Chris Camacho, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, told The Arizona Republic.
It’s happened before. Nearly 40 years ago, the first Nissans rolled off an assembly line in Tennessee, helping to turn a largely rural state with modest manufacturing aspirations into an automotive powerhouse. Tennessee now produces more than 800,000 cars and trucks annually and employs around 123,000 people, with three major auto brands and more than 900 parts suppliers.
But unlike the three major manufacturers in Tennessee — Nissan, General Motors and Volkswagen — Arizona’s three vehicle producers are all startups, and they’re all engaged in electric-vehicles.
Lucid has announced its Casa Grande factory is complete and will begin producing tens of thousands of electric cars this spring. Nikola Corp. is building a factory in nearby Coolidge where it will produce electric and hydrogen powered heavy trucks. And ElectraMeccanica will start assembling three-wheeled, one-seat electric cars not much bigger than motorcycles at a plant near Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.
The big question is whether all the companies can get commercial production up and running. After that, the big test will involve suppliers and whether Arizona can attract them in sizable numbers to transform the state into an auto manufacturing hub. The next few years could prove pivotal.
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