Although a letter of intent signed by California-based Mullen Technologies to build a manufacturing facility on the West Plains expired last month, public development authority officials remain confident the project will happen.
Mullen signed the letter of intent last year with S3R3 Solutions – formerly the West Plains Public Development Authority – that calls for the agency to build and lease 1.3 million square feet of assembly and manufacturing space for the company’s Dragonfly K50 electric sports car.
S3R3 Solutions extended the letter of intent with Mullen until March 31, allowing the company more time to secure funding for the project. The company is still in the process of raising more than $1 billion in financing to build the manufacturing facility, said Todd Coleman, executive director of S3R3 Solutions.
In the letter of intent, Mullen Technologies agreed to raise an equity investment of $50 million before entering a lease agreement with the PDA.
Mullen is awaiting a decision on a $450 million Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan from the U.S Department of Energy. The company also intends to raise private and opportunity-zone funding for the project.
The letter of intent specifies a particular site on which Mullen Technologies would build the manufacturing facility, but there’s plenty of land near Spokane International Airport that could accommodate the project, Coleman said.
“If they come to us in six months or a year from now and say, ‘we have financing’… we can put together the property and everything they need for the facility,” said Coleman, adding the project is a large undertaking that takes time for a startup company to move forward.
Mullen Technologies did not respond to requests for comment about the project’s status or timeline.
The manufacturing and assembly facility for the Dragonfly K50 electric car would create 55 jobs at initial startup and is projected to add 863 jobs by 2026, according to officials. Mullen Technologies, through Mullen Energy, also expressed interest in bringing in research and development for lithium-ion batteries, which would create up to 3,000 jobs, they say.
Phase one of the development, which calls for a 500,000-square-foot facility for automobile manufacturing and research for lithium-ion batteries, was slated for completion by 2021. The second phase, completed two to three years later, would include an 800,000-square-foot building for manufacturing the batteries.
S3R3 Solutions would build the manufacturing and assembly facility, and provide rail access. The project would be financed through a revenue bond that would be paid back through the lease agreement with Mullen Technologies.
The high-performance Dragonfly K50 –formerly named the Qiantu K50 – is powered by a lithium-ion battery. It is capable of reaching 60 mph in less than 4.2 seconds and has a range of 250 miles.
The Dragonfly K50 is anticipated to launch in the U.S. this year under a partnership with China-based Qiantu Motor.
Mullen Technologies has several subsidiaries, including Mullen Auto Sales, a series of pre-owned auto dealerships in California; CarHub, a digital platform for buying and selling cars; Mullen Energy, a division that focuses on advancing battery technology; and Mullen Finance Corp., which offers vehicle leases and loans.
The company is also manufacturing portable ventilators for distribution in hospitals.
The Mullen 8 ventilators, which will be released by the end of April, are powered by the company’s advanced battery system, which enables respiratory function for dozens of hours on a single charge, according to a company release.
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