Electric vehicle startup Canoo manufactures first vehicles in Oklahoma 

By: - November 14, 2023 5:29 am

A Canoo vehicle sits in front of the state Capitol earlier this year. Company officials announced Monday that they have manufactured their first electric vehicles in Oklahoma. (Photo by Janelle Stecklein/Oklahoma Voice)

A startup electric vehicle company has manufactured its first vehicles in Oklahoma, officials said. 

State officials said Monday they plan to purchase Canoo’s first three made-in-Oklahoma vehicles when they’re delivered to the state later this year. 

Canoo officials said in a press release that they had already delivered the electric vehicles, but spokespeople with the Governor’s Office and Office of Management and Enterprise Services said Oklahoma had not yet finalized the purchases. 

“We are excited about the potential of an Oklahoma-manufactured vehicle being part of the state’s fleet and look forward to further evaluating these vehicles as part of our broader initiative to modernize the state’s fleet for a more efficient state government for taxpayers,” Christa Helfrey, an OMES spokesperson, said in a statement.

The company said the vehicles are the first to be built in Oklahoma since 2006. 

In the press release, Canoo officials also said they’re hiring for both their Oklahoma City and Pryor facilities and expect to create over 1,300 jobs. 

The announcement comes nearly a year after Canoo disclosed that it had acquired a 630,000-square-foot facility in Oklahoma City to manufacture its electric Lifestyle Delivery and Lifestyle vehicles.

State leaders have bet big on Canoo’s success.

Gov. Kevin Stitt and state economic development officials raised eyebrows when they announced that they had wooed Canoo to Pryor’s MidAmerica Industrial Park with a package of incentives said to be valued at more than $300 million. That included a record-setting $15 million in cash from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund, which is to be paid out as the company meets a series of performance metrics. 

The state also reserved the right to purchase as many as 1,000 Canoo vehicles. 

At the time, the company had not yet produced any vehicles, and some financial disclosures indicated the company was struggling financially. 

“It’s an honor to partner with the state of Oklahoma and its workforce to create a legacy for electric vehicles in America’s Heartland,” said Tony Aquila, chairman and CEO of Canoo, in a statement. “What is inspiring to me is that it takes just a small group of innovators and hardworking believers who find a way to win. I want to thank Gov. Stitt and his team for believing in us. We want our vehicles to provide service to Oklahomans who have been our partners on this journey.”   

In a statement Stitt said that he’s “proud to be part of this historic moment as Canoo builds momentum on its road to full-scale production.”

“This marks Oklahoma’s return to vehicle manufacturing and proves ‘The Sooner State’ is the right place to grow cutting-edge businesses and create new jobs,” he said.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Janelle Stecklein
Janelle Stecklein

Janelle Stecklein is editor of Oklahoma Voice. An award-winning journalist, Stecklein has been covering Oklahoma government and politics since moving to the state in 2014.