Truck-making Tesla Rival Brings 2,000 Jobs to Phoenix

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Feb. 8, 2018—A maker of zero-emissions commercial trucks said it will establish its manufacturing operations and move its headquarters to metro Phoenix, bringing 2,000 jobs, according to USA Today

Nikola Motor announced it will establish operations in Buckeye, Ariz. Gov. Doug Ducey called it a "huge announcement" that will include a $1-billion capital investment, with 4,000 construction jobs, too.

The company claims to have 8,000 orders for its fuel-cell truck but faces competition from other manufacturers, including Toyota, Tesla, Daimler, Volvo, Navistar and Cummins, reported

Nikola, a privately-held company currently located in Salt Lake City, plans to begin hiring in 2019 for what it calls a highly automated manufacturing facility, with production starting the following year on its hydrogen-electric semi-trucks, which will face off against Tesla's electric trucks.

It could eventually could result in 20,000 jobs in metro Phoenix considering that each direct-hire automotive-manufacturing job creates 10 jobs for suppliers and related services, said Trevor Milton, the company's CEO.

Milton said Nikola examined 30 sites in nine states before selecting Buckeye.

"Every governor rolled out the red carpet," he said. "We needed a state that's very pro-business, that really wanted us to succeed."

Milton alluded to "complex" financial incentives tied to the announcement but did not elaborate. Buckeye said it will rebate 49 percent of the sales taxes related to the construction and operation of the facility.

Susan Marie, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Commerce Authority, said Arizona will provide up to $46.5 million in job-training and tax-abatement incentives, contingent on Nikola hiring employees and investing in the facility. More than $41 million of that would be in the form of tax credits.

Milton estimated 80 to 90 percent of the 2,000 direct jobs would be local hires, with some specialty positions including research and development staff transferring from Utah.

Other important factors in the selection of Buckeye included a large, qualified labor force in metro Phoenix, the presence of the engineering school at Arizona State University, favorable weather for year-round manufacturing and the planned construction of Interstate 11, a freeway that would run from Mexico to Canada.

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