Canoo is setting up headquarters in Walmart's hometown, picks Panasonic as battery supplier

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Canoo, the electric automaker that became a publicly traded company last year, is expanding its U.S. footprint with plans to establish its headquarters and an advanced manufacturing industrialized facility in Bentonville, Arkansas — a city most famously connected with Walmart.

"This is an advanced manufacturing facility that will allow us to produce vehicles for unique use cases as well as accelerate our testing into gamma," said Canoo CEO and Chai Tony Aquila on Monday. "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."

Aquila said engineering, design and sourcing of materials for its gamma platform is complete, and the company is in the final steps before production. During the earnings call, Canoo played a video demonstrating the progress of its gamma build, hinting at a specific unnamed partner for which the company is producing vehicles in the United States. Canoo expects to build 120 to 150 of those vehicles, and "some of them will be in the hands of potential partners," said Aquila.

Canoo also announced Panasonic as its battery supplier and other expansion plans during its third-quarter earnings call Monday, including the establishment of a technology hubs in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Fayetteville, Arkansas to support R&D in electronics, power trains, battery, vehicle engineering and testing, as well as expanded operations at its first U.S. factory in Oklahoma, which is currently under construction. Canoo also announced a software development center in Tulsa and a customer support and finance center in Oklahoma City, and said it will continue to focus on engineering and vehicle design in California.

"Combined, these facilities are expected to employ as many as 1,200 people providing higher education and jobs in the region," said Canoo CEO and Chai Tony Aquila on Monday.

On top of the expansion news, Canoo said it was moving up the start of production of its lifestyle vehicle from early 2023 to begin before the fourth quarter of 2022.

Earlier this year, Canoo made dual manufacturing announcements. The startup named Dutch company VDL Nedcar as its contract manufacturing partner for its lifestyle vehicle. VDL Nedcar will manufacture the vehicle for the U.S. & EU markets while Canoo builds its U.S.-based mega microfactory. Canoo previously estimated the Nedcar facility would build up to 1,000 units in 2022 for U.S. and European markets, with a target of 15,000 units in 2023. Aquila upgraded that figure in August to 25,000 units in 2023.

The company announced in June plans to build its first factory in Oklahoma. At the time, the state had committed $300 million in non-dilutive financial incentives to support the facility and Phase 2 of manufacturing. On Monday, Aquila said the state has added another $100 million in additional non-dilutive financial incentives, pushing the total to $400 million.

"Our discipline continues to be Big News or No News. Therefore, we will accelerate our advanced manufacturing production in the U.S. to begin before Q4 2022," Aquila said in a statement, adding that the company is targeting about $100 million in vehicle orders with the states and universities where it is locating facilities.

The Oklahoma factory will now include R&D, software development, customer support and finance centers, according to the company.

On the money front, the company reported a net loss of $80.9 million in the third quarter, about a fourfold increase from the $23.4 million in losses it reported in the same period last year.

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