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GSCW chat recap: Duchesne on Nikola’s Arizona plant

Duchesne talks the ‘art of making things’

Mark Duchesne discusses Nikola's new plant construction in Arizona.

This fireside chat recap is from Day 4 of FreightWaves Global Supply Chain Week. Day 4 focuses on automotive.

FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: Nikola’s first plant blooming in the Arizona desert

DETAILS: Mark Duchesne brought diverse manufacturing experience to Nikola Corp., having helped build a plant for Toyota in China and make startup car building decisions at Tesla Inc. He is applying the best of both to Nikola as it builds its electric truck plant in the Arizona desert.

SPEAKER: Duchesne, global head of manufacturing at Nikola

BIO: Duchesne most recently spent four years at Chinese electric automaker BYTON, which plans its first model in 2022. Before that, he worked in manufacturing at Tesla and Toyota, which are polar opposites in their approach to manufacturing.


“We’re a startup company. We don’t have an endless supply of funds, and we’re trying to be really quick-moving. Doing this in phases allows us to get a really fast start on actually building trucks here in Phoenix. But it also allows us to control the capital and only spend it when we actually need to.”

“The first 270,000 square feet, which is our 0.5 phase, the steel is going up right now, the roof is going on right now, they’re pouring the concrete slabs. It should be fundamentally completed by May of this year. The assembly equipment is on its way to put in. We’ll have that in place in May, and we’re hoping to start building trucks in there this summer.”

“I think the cab-over truck is going to make a revival. The new technology and the way a battery-electric truck comes together will start to make cab-overs a good choice again. … In the U.S., it’ll be a very distinctive truck you’ll see going down the road.”

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Alyssa Sporrer.

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Alyssa Sporrer

Alyssa is a staff writer at FreightWaves, covering sustainability news in the freight and supply chain industry, from low-carbon fuels to social sustainability, emissions & more. She graduated from Iowa State University with a double major in Marketing and Environmental Studies. She is passionate about all things environmental and enjoys outdoor activities such as skiing, ultimate frisbee, hiking, and soccer.