EV Company Canoo to Move HQ to Bentonville, Employ 500 In Arkansas


EV Company Canoo to Move HQ to Bentonville, Employ 500 In Arkansas
One of Canoo's all-electric multi-purpose delivery vehicles, which the company announced in December 2020. It said the vehicle would start at about $33,000. (Canoo)

Electric automaker Canoo Inc. announced late Monday that it will move its headquarters to northwest Arkansas, pledging to employ more than 500 people in Benton and Washington counties.

The company, which went public last year and trades on the Nasdaq exchange (GOEV), said in a news release that it had selected Bentonville as the site for its headquarters and an advanced industrialization and low-volume production facility for small package delivery vehicles in the state. It also plans to put a research and development center in Fayetteville.

"These and other investments will bring at least 545 high paying jobs to Benton and Washington counties," the company said.

"Our investment in these new facilities will accelerate the development of high demand delivery vehicles for customers around the world," Chairman and CEO Tony Aquila said. "We thank Governor [Asa] Hutchinson and his team for their leadership and vision for the state's role in the mobility revolution."

In a statement, the governor said Canoo's decision to come to northwest Arkansas "is an excellent example of why our state has put so much effort and energy into computer science education and workforce training and development in recent years.

"As a leader in technology with a talent pool that prioritizes innovation, hard work, and entrepreneurship, Arkansas shares many of the values that Canoo embodies, making this partnership a natural fit."

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission said Tuesday that it's working on performance-based incentives for the Canoo operations. Chelsea O'Kelley, director of communications, said incentives would be "conditioned on job creation and targeted wages."

"We will disclose detailed information on the incentives package once the terms are finalized," she said.

Canoo said Monday's announcement is "part of transforming the U.S. Route 412 corridor from Oklahoma through Arkansas into a center of electric vehicle research, development and manufacturing power." In June, the company announced plans for a electric vehicle manufacturing plant at the MidAmerica Industrial Park near Tulsa, Oklahoma.

There the company plans a 400-acre campus including a full commercialization facility with a paint and body shop, general assembly plant and another low-volume industrialization facility. Canoo said the plant, set top open in 2023, will employ 2,000 people.

In August, Aquila told investors on a conference call that the state of Oklahoma had committed about $300 million "in non-diluted financial incentives to support our facility." But the Oklahoma Department Commerce declined the Tulsa World's request for incentive details, citing an exemption in the state's Open Records Act.

"We will now focus on completing the definitive agreements with each state, which will include approximately $100 million in additional non-dilutive financial incentives, making the total approximately $400 million," Aquila said." In addition, with these agreements, we are targeting approximately $100 million in vehicle orders with the states and universities where we are locating these facilities."

Monday's news release did not include details about where the Bentonville facilities or Fayetteville R&D center would be located. It did not include financial details of the plan.

In a conference call on Monday, Aquila said the Bentonville production facility "will allow us to produce vehicles for unique use cases."

"We're looking for ways to take down the traditional go-to-market way and this will produce vehicles that we will sell as well," he said.

Canoo reported Monday a third-quarter net loss of $80.9 million, more than the $23.4 million net loss it recorded in the same quarter last year. For the nine month ended Sept. 30, that net loss was $208.7 million, deeper than the $77.5 million net loss it reported in the same period the previous year.

Canoo has operations in Torrance, California, and Justin, Texas. It reported in August that it had more than 9,500 vehicle pre-orders for 2022 and 2023 valued at at least $313 million. One of its vehicles is a "lifestyle vehicle," also described as a "loft on wheels," that can travel 250 miles per charge. It's priced at $34,000.