The pending purchase of a new manufacturing plant will put Eugene's homegrown electric vehicle company on the road to mass production, the company's founder says.
Arcimoto expects by the end of March to close on buying the Pacific Metal Fab site at 311 Chambers St., according to Mark Frohnmayer, founder and president. The 185,000-square-foot site is more than five times bigger than its current space, he said.
"It's a necessary step to the achievement of mass production," Frohnmayer said. "That's going to get us into a several tens of thousands of units potential production capability."
Arcimoto launched retail production of its "fun utility vehicle," a three-wheel electric vehicle, in September 2019. The FUV and its sister models are the result of a dozen years' worth of development and entered the market with a good deal of local fanfare.
But the pandemic shuttered production at the company's Eugene plant in mid-March 2020. Production restarted over the summer, but Frohnmayer said hundreds more FUVs could have been built. At the end of the third quarter, Arcimoto had delivered 136 FUVs.
"We started the year as a fledgling manufacturer with a few dozen vehicles under our belt, then got hit with the pandemic like everyone else," Frohnmayer said.
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The $10.25 million purchase of the Pacific Metal Fab site still needs an environmental assessment before it can be completed, but Frohnmayer hopes after some "substantial upgrades," Arcimoto will have "meaningful manufacturing" happening on the property.
At a double-shift, 24-hour-a-day pace, Frohnmayer said he think the current Arcimoto manufacturing plant on West Second Avenue could turn out about 5,000 vehicles a year.
"In the vehicle world, that's a very niche product line," Frohnmayer said. "What we're aiming for is the capability within a few years to be able to do 50,000 units a year."
Arcimoto currently employs 135 people. Frohnmayer expects to have more than 200 employees by the time the new plant begins operations, expected at the end of the year.
Frohnmayer said the existing plant will keep building vehicles after the new site opens. The two sites are a block away from each other in the Whiteaker neighborhood.
"Arcimoto was born and raised in the Whiteaker. This is returning manufacturing to squarely within the bounds of the Whiteaker neighborhood," Frohnmayer said.
Contact reporter Adam Duvernay at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @DuvernayOR.