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Nikola semi startup breaks ground on its first plant in Arizona

Construction should wrap up by 2023. Nikola then plans to build 35,000 semis a year at the plant.

Nikola factory ground breaking ceremony
And the ground is broken.

It's a big day for startup Nikola. The company with a focus on fuel-cell and electric semi trucks officially broke ground at the site of its future plant in Coolidge, Arizona on Thursday.

The largely ceremonial ordeal begins a massive construction project to bring a 1-million square foot facility to life in the next three years. Nikola said the first phase of construction will finish at the end of 2021. Final construction for phase two will wrap up in the following 12-18 months.

The facility will eventually produce 35,000 semi trucks annually and bring both the Nikola Two and Tre to North American and European roads. The Two is a fuel-cell and electric day cab semi, while the Tre focuses more on European needs in the form of a cabover style. Nikola also said it plans to first start production of the Tre in Germany through a partnership with Italian truckmaker Iveco. Production will eventually shift to the factory in Arizona, however.

Nikola really started to gain steam last September after CNH Industrial announced a $250 million investment into the company. While CNH certainly isn't a household name, it operates Iveco and FPT Industrial. Both are massive players in the commercial vehicle and powertrain markets. Not only will CNH lend its powertrain experience to Nikola, but the company also granted the startup access to its sales and service network in Europe.

A handful of companies have already raised their hands to place orders for Nikola semis. Most notably, Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch wants 800 of them. The company already ran a delivery of beer last year with the Nikola Two to the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

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