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By Nick Carey
LONDON, May 16 (Reuters) - REE Automotive, which develops rolling chassis for commercial electric vehicles (EVs), said on Monday it will build an assembly plant in the British city of Coventry to supply customers in Europe.
The Israeli-based startup said the highly-automated assembly plant it will complete this year in partnership with Rockwell Automation and Expert Technologies will have an annual production capacity of 10,000 EV chassis.
The company did not disclose the size of the investment or how many jobs will be created, but Chief Executive Daniel Barel said the high level of automation meant the plant could be run by a staff of around seven people.
"This is asset-light assembly using cloud-based infrastructure," Barel told Reuters, adding that it should take the company 10-11 months to build any additional plant as it expands.
REE already plans another plant in Austin, Texas, in 2023, by replicating that highly-automated cloud-based system, doubling its manufacturing capacity to 20,000 EV chassis.
The company said the Coventry plant will initially focus on its P7 electric platform for commercial uses like delivery vans, buses and recreational vehicles.
REE plans to launch production of an electric delivery van and a people mover in 2023.
Instead of traditional axles, REE's electric vehicle platform runs using four separate wheels - with their own steering, braking, suspension, powertrain and control - that allow its vehicles to have flatter bottoms, providing more room for cargo.
As traditional automakers prepare to churn out electric vans and trucks, startups are focused more than ever on finding a competitive or technological edge to stay on the road once their bigger rivals start moving through the gears. (Reporting By Nick Carey; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)