Nikola secures Gold and Silver Project of the Year award

Area Development magazine has named trucking startup Nikola Motor one of its Gold & Silver Shovel 2019 projects of the year.

The annual awards recognize states for their achievements in attracting investment projects that will create a significant number of new jobs in their communities. Five high-value projects were also recognized.

Nikola’s headquarters facility opens in Phoenix this year, and it will break ground on its $1 billion manufacturing facility later in 2019 in Coolidge.

The startup has announced a slew of electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and this past April unveiled with much fanfare its zero emissions hydrogen-electric big rigs.

Full production of the Nikola Two model is on track for 2022, the company claims. Anheuser-Busch and U.S. Xpress are among the customers that have placed orders for the Nikola trucks, and fleet testing is expected to take place by the end of the year.

“After 12 months, nine states and 30 locations, we decided on Arizona,” said Trevor Milton, Nikola’s CEO, in an email. “With a workforce to support our growth and a pro-business Governor, Arizona understood what 2,000 jobs would mean to their state.”

One of five states that secured an Area Development Gold & Silver award, Arizona has long pitched itself as a leader in alternative vehicle technology, and in recent years next generation vehicle companies have flocked there, attracted by the sunny weather and liberal regulatory climate.

Self-driving vehicle startup Waymo announced earlier this month that it was returning to Arizona to test its self-driving trucks on the freeways in Phoenix. The company previously tested its trucks in Arizona in 2018.

Autonomous trucking startup TuSimple is headquartered in Tucson, and this week announced a partnership with Pima Community College on an autonomous vehicle certificate program for truck drivers.

Area Development’s annual Gold & Silver Shovel state awards are based on a combination of weighted factors – including the number of new jobs to be created in relation to the state’s population, the combined dollar amount of the investments, the number of new facilities and the diversity of industry represented. The project awards are based on dollar amount and the state’s population.

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Linda Baker, Staff Writer

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves staff reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes early-stage VC, freight-tech, mobility and West Coast emissions regulations.

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