By Nick Carey
LONDON (Reuters) - Electric truck startup Volta Trucks said on Wednesday its first trucks will be made under contract starting late 2022 at a former MAN truck plant in Austria by Steyr Automotive, a newly formed company that has taken over the factory.
As part of a cost cutting plan, Volkswagen AG unit MAN recently turned its plant in Steyr, Austria, over to Steyr Automotive, run by former Canadian auto supplier Magna International Inc executive Siegfried Wolf. The plant will keep making vehicles for MAN until 2023, but is looking to serve as a contract manufacturer for other firms.
Stockholm-based Volta Trucks, which also operates in the UK, needs to start producing the Volta Zero, a 16-tonne electric truck, in late 2022 and produce 5,000 vehicles for customers in 2023 ahead of a diesel truck ban in Paris effective in 2024.
Instead of building its own expensive plant and slogging through working out how to build its electric trucks at scale, Volta will hire Steyr Automotive to build them.
"Apart from an excellent manufacturing facility, Steyr Automotive has trained engineers and experienced managers at all levels of their workforce," Volta Trucks Chief Technology Officer Kjell Waloen told Reuters. "If you start up a brand new product in a brand new plant without experience, you multiply the risks and complications many, many times."
Rather than going through "manufacturing hell" as Tesla Inc did when ramping up production of its mass-market Model 3 sedan in 2017 and 2018, several electric startups have chosen to hand that over to operators who already build vehicles at scale.
REE Automotive and Fisker Inc have both teamed up with Magna to build their EVs, while Fisker has a similar agreement with Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Co Ltd.
Volta Trucks currently plans four electric truck models of different sizes and says it expects to produce more than 27,000 trucks annually by 2025.
(Reporting By Nick Carey; Editing by David Gregorio)