Envirotech Vehicles Inc. of Corona, California, said Tuesday that it will open a manufacturing facility on Ohlendorf Road in Osceola that will employ 800 people.
The company will also move its headquarters there. It first announced plans last week to put a manufacturing facility in Arkansas but did not say where. A Tuesday morning news release said the company is buying a 580,000-SF facility at 1425 Ohlendorf Road from the city.
"We are thrilled to announce that we have chosen Osceola as the home of our first U.S.-based manufacturing facility, backed with the support of the Great River Economic Development Foundation and the state of Arkansas, CEO Phillip Oldridge said.
"We are confident that Osceola has the perfect business climate and local workforce to allow us to see growth and success in the region as the state’s first commercial electric vehicle manufacturer. This, and the plant’s location near the Mississippi River with access to the port of Osceola, will be vital as we position EVT to bring new innovation and technology advancements to the state."
Envirotech makes and provides all-electric, zero-emission vehicles and zero-emission drive trains for medium to heavy-duty commercial fleet vehicles. It said that at first it will use the Osceola facility to handle the final outfitting and shipment of its imported vehicles "while simultaneously converting the plant into a full manufacturing operation."
The company put the total cost of the new operation at more than $80 million over five years. That includes the cost of the building and equipment.
Clif Chitwood, president of the Great River Economic Development Foundation, said in a news release that his organization has been working to diversify Mississippi County's economic profile by attracting companies from new industries.
"Envirotech has a long history of producing purpose-built electric trucks and vans, and we believe the company will be a valuable addition to the area, bringing a combination of employment opportunities, including technology, manufacturing and engineering," he said.
The announcement marks another significant jobs and manufacturing announcement for Osceola. In January, U.S. Steel of Pittsburgh said it would build a $3 billion steel plant, creating 900 direct and indirect jobs. The company already owns Big River Steel there, and says that together the two operations will produce 6.3 million tons of steel per year. U.S. Steel broke ground on its new plant earlier this month.
In a statement, U.S. Steel CEO David Burritt welcomed Envirotech to the area.
"With forward thinking enterprises such as [Envirotech], Arkansas is becoming a center for advanced, sustainable manufacturing in the United States. We are pleased to be partnering with Envirotech Vehicles in producing a future that is Best for All," he said.
Envirotech is the second electric vehicle company to announce plans for Arkansas operations. In November, Canoo Inc. of Texas said it would move its headquarters to Bentonville and open an advanced industrialization, a low-volume production facility for small package delivery vehicles and a research and development center in northwest Arkansas. Canoo CEO Tony Aquila said he was drawn to the region by its "ecosystem of innovation, infrastructure and education excellence."
During his state of the state address last week, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he would create the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility, which will seek out state laws and regulations that stand in the way of progress on “electrification, autonomous vehicles, drone delivery, and advanced air mobility.” The governor is scheduled to share more about the council at an 11 a.m. news conference.
Envirotech is publicly traded on the OTCQX, the top tier of the three marketplaces for over-the-counter stocks. Sales for its most recent quarter, the third quarter of last year, totaled $709,000. The company sold eight vehicles during the quarter but recorded no sales for the same quarter of 2020. In addition, Envirotech widened its quarterly net loss to $850,000 from $71,000 in the third quarter of 2020.
In November, Envirotech announced that it had delivered one van and one truck to Shine Solar LLC of Rogers. Envirotech also entered into a factory authorized representative agreement with Shine Solar in August; that agreement allowed Shine Solar to promote, sell and service Envirotech products throughout the country.