Clevon, an Estonian self-driving vehicle manufacturer is putting its vehicles out on the streets in North Texas. Residents in Northlake, a town near the Alliance Airport, can now get packages delivered or picked up from PostNet Northlake by Clevon’s vehicles.
The new service is part of what Clevon executives see as the start of the company’s expansion in the region. The company located its U.S. operations headquarters in Alliance Airport in North Fort Worth last year and plans to put 1,000 vehicles on the roads by 2025, Clevon CEO Sander Sebastian Agur said. The company has authority to operate in Texas, Arizona, Utah, New Hampshire and West Virginia, he said.
“It’s not a science project,” Agur said. “It’s a real commercial service. And we are already operating on the public streets.”
Many companies are coming to North Texas to test out and implement driverless vehicles due to lighter regulations and the proximity of the Alliance Airport.
Clevon (NASDAQ: CLEV) partnered with a local packing and shipping store, PostNet, to deliver parcels to customers in the area. Clevon 1, the company’s electric delivery vehicle, can carry up to six packages to residents using PostNet’s services across three work shifts during the day.
Customers get a special code to enter to receive their package when the vehicle arrives. The vehicles drive up to 20 mph on the road for regulatory and safety purposes, but can go faster. The speed limits on the roads the robot is traveling is limited to 25 or 35 mph. It charges inside Lamar National Bank in Northlake at the end of each day. T-Mobile is the company’s data provider, which helps the machine navigate the roads.
Clevon chose Northlake because of its proximity to the Alliance Airport, Meelis Anton, Clevon’s chief operating officer in the U.S., said. The company is also working closely with Hillwood, which is developing the area.
Gary Good, owner of PostNet Northlake, saw the delivery vehicle as an opportunity to better serve customers. His business doesn’t employ drivers. Some customers who sell items on eBay bring 10-50 packages a day to him. A robot carrier can make things easier for them, he said.
“They could just sit there in their house and do more business,” Good said. “They could focus on doing their business, instead of having to make trips up here and load up their vehicle and bring it up to my store and have my team take care of those packages.”
Good said they are still getting the word out about the vehicles after a few weeks of operation. Clevon’s Agur sees opportunities to expand in the aviation sector, using the cars to deliver supplies and other items across the airport. The company already has multiple vehicles operating at the Alliance Airport, Anton said. City of Fort Worth to identify potential commercial partners to implement the technology as well.
“The problems are big, and the rewards for everybody, for us, and for the consumers, are that much higher if we solve difficult problems,” Agur said.
Clevon, a global autonomous delivery innovator founded in Estonia, has launched a commercial service in the U.S. with PostNet Northlake. Clevon manufactures state-of-the-art Autonomous Robot Carriers (ARCs) and uses them to service PostNet customers in Northlake, Texas. The service has been tested over a few weeks, and local residents who live within a few miles radius of the PostNet office at 100 Plaza Place have been able to get their parcels delivered by the ARC.
PostNet Northlake provides mailbox and package handling services for the residents and businesses in the community. Clevon’s service offers the convenience of direct doorstep delivery with the continued security these residents want. Clevon will schedule a desired delivery time with each resident, bringing the package directly to them, operating from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. As Clevon scales the ARC delivery services with PostNet Northlake, new additional services can be provided using the technology – like food and grocery deliveries.
“When others are folding, Clevon is expanding! We are fulfilling our mission to build an infrastructure for making suburban deliveries affordable, safe, and foremost convenient for consumers,” said Sander Sebastian Agur, Clevon’s chief executive officer. “Clevon’s ARCs are transforming how goods are transported and delivered locally, leading to greater convenience and less expense, reduced energy consumption, and improved environmental outcomes. This partnership demonstrates how the future of the last mile deliveries can be experienced already today.”
“We are excited to offer this convenience to the PostNet Northlake community. With the ARC, our customers who appreciate the secure, centralized receipt of mail and packages for their families and/or businesses can watch the ARC deliver straight to their doors. Moreover, customers who run home-based businesses can streamline their busy days by having the ARC securely retrieve their packages and bring them safely to PostNet Northlake. We want to be the problem solvers for our customers’ pain points, and having the Clevon ARC help us do that is amazing,” shared Gary L. Good, multi-unit PostNet owner.
“Northlake is thrilled by the recent commercial deployment of Clevon’s technology which will benefit Northlake’s growing retail and restaurant offerings,” said Northlake mayor David Rettig. “Clevon is forever changing how goods are transported, and we look forward to seeing additional applications in the future.”
Local collaboration matters
The local collaboration is critical for building out an excellent example for the future of mobility. Lamar National Bank is a great partner, as Greg Wilson, the President and CEO of Lamar National Bank, immediately opened his door to provide the ARC with a place to sleep and recharge after each hard day serving the Northlake community. Additionally, Clevon’s U.S. headquarters are at the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone (MIZ) in Fort Worth, where the company continues to commercialize its autonomous technology.
The company’s expansion into the North American market comes as the market needs to offer on-demand, same-day, or next-day delivery of goods continues to skyrocket. Clevon’s driverless robot carriers are driving on public roads and enable the transportation of goods in energy-efficient, cost-effective, and scalable ways. Clevon’s ARCs have been on public roads in Europe for over three years and have proven safe and reliable, with a perfect safety record. The company is enabling their customers fulfill targets for making their deliveries more environmentally friendly.
For anyone who likes to complain about North Texas drivers, it might sound alarming to know that soon you’ll be sharing the highways with transport trucks that don’t have a driver at all. The Metroplex has quietly become the new frontier for the development of autonomous trucking, with several companies from around the world setting up operations here — and using North Texas highways for real-world testing. For now, these delivery trucks making stops at Sam’s Clubs, Krogers and other destinations do have a human behind the wheel — a safety driver in case of emergencies or technology glitches. Soon, that will no longer be the case.
The worsening shortage of people to fill trucking jobs is fueling a race among companies to bring to market a dominant driverless technology for the future of moving goods on the nation’s highways. Several of the largest industry players are now in North Texas, lured by the region’s central location on the transportation network and the state’s looser regulations. But that also has some experts worried about just how safe driverless trucks really are, given the technology is so new. An added concern for North Texas is that the companies are testing their trucks on highways here.
FORT WORTH: A NEW HUB FOR AUTONOMOUS TRUCKING
In Fort Worth’s Near Southside neighborhood, Volvo Autonomous Solutions, a division of the Swedish truck and vehicle manufacturer, opened an office in April focused on commercializing, selling and delivering autonomous solutions globally. The office at 401 Bryan Ave. will start Volvo’s U.S. highway activities aimed at transporting goods to and from customer hubs on long-haul trucks.
In partnership with self-driving technology company Aurora, Volvo plans to get a fleet delivering on one lane between Fort Worth and El Paso, and another between Dallas and Houston. To the north, AllianceTexas is home to a Mobility Innovation Zone, which allows for the testing, scaling and commercialization of new technologies. Experts say the zone gives Fort Worth a shot at becoming the Silicon Valley of mobility and innovation.
Autonomous deliverer Gatik expanded to Alliance in mid-2021, where it operates a research and development facility and North Texas operations hub. With offices in Canada and California, Gatik specializes in middle-mile deliveries up to around 300 miles round-trip.
Gatik’s self-driving trucks deliver to more than 30 Sam’s Club locations in the Metroplex. It recently went live with Kroger, moving goods from customer fulfillment centers to grocery stores across North Texas.
Alliance also is home to self-driving trucking companies TuSimple, based in San Diego, and the Swedish company Einride. Meanwhile, Google subsidiary Waymo is testing self-driving trucks on Interstate 45 between Dallas and Houston, and California-based Kodiak Robotics operates most of its self-driving operations out of Dallas.
WHY ARE ALL THE KEY PLAYERS COMING TO NORTH TEXAS?
Ian Kinne, director of logistics innovation at AllianceTexas developer Hillwood, said Texas has been the prove-it state for the industry. Kinne said he thinks the state wants to understand the technology and work with these companies to help them commercialize. “DFW has really become the spot for autonomous trucking in the U.S.,” Kinne said.
Texas is attractive to these companies because of its limited regulation, and because a lot of freight is already moving on its highways. Texas does not require autonomous trucks to have a safety driver, but Kinne said most companies still use one to “promote safety in the remote chance an issue occurs.” Kinne said safety is the first thing many of the autonomous trucking companies talk about. And, he said, wide-scale adoption of autonomous driving will be a gradual process.
While some states have different rules on testing and deploying autonomous trucks, Texas is very hands off on regulation, experts say. Texas’ regulatory environment means we could see more of these trucks on our roads. But that’s concerning to Philip Koopman, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who has been working on self-driving car safety for more than 25 years. Autonomous trucking companies decide for themselves when they think their vehicles are safe enough to operate on public roads, Koopman said.
“The government probably made that decision for jobs and economic growth,” Koopman said. “But the cost of that decision is you’re potentially putting other road users at risk, and there’s no way to figure out how safe it is. That’s the trade-off that’s been made.” Koopman said companies face tremendous pressure to get on the road, show progress and maintain investment of stakeholders. “One hopes the companies are responsible,” Koopman said. “Some have proven they are. Some have proven they are not. Under that kind of financial pressure, even the best leadership might find themselves with pressure to deploy even if they’re not ready. That’s a tough position to be in.”
Koopman said he would prefer to see external oversight that would relieve that pressure on companies to decide when is safe to remove the driver from behind the wheel.
HOW DO SELF-DRIVING TRUCKS WORK?
While companies’ techniques in mastering autonomous trucking vary, there are some common overlaps. Many companies use computer mapping to plan the path of a self-driving truck. In the case of Volvo, sensors log data while driving on a road that helps a computer understand the surroundings. Ceren Wende, the head of marketing and communications for Volvo Autonomous Solutions, said the company can then simulate pop-up scenarios that would change road conditions. These include construction zones, weather and obstacles like animals or the occasional pedestrian.
“We repeatedly train the virtual driver and hardware on these different scenarios and validate the results with real-world driving so we know that the vehicle will behave safely in these situations,” Wende said. Meanwhile, Gatik’s trucks are in continual two-way communication with the company’s remote monitoring centers. Richard Steiner, Gatik’s head of policy and communications, said from there, employees monitor the fleet and can provide remote assistance if there is a lane closure or unexpected construction. “Gatik’s remote supervision system has been developed to leverage human intuition, which ensures our autonomous fleet remains fundamentally independent, while safeguarding certain advantages of human-to-vehicle collaboration,” Steiner said.
While maps do a lot of the heavy lifting, they’re not necessarily foolproof, experts say. Self-driving expert Koopman said one problem is making sure frequently changing construction zones get updated on computer maps. “People will say they’re going to put all the construction zones on a map, but the first vehicle to see a construction zone doesn’t know it’s there,” Koopman said. “That can help other vehicles after the first one, but if that first vehicle is an automated truck, and it doesn’t know how construction zones work, you’ve got a problem.” One thing Koopman is not worried about is autonomous trucks merging and changing lanes. Most companies have spent considerable time teaching their vehicles to merge with the right amount of assertiveness based on the culture of the city to match prevailing traffic conditions, he said.
Koopman does worry about unusual things that happen on the ride, like overturned vehicles, bicyclists, crossing animals, grass fires and emergency vehicles. While the industry promotes safety, Koopman argues, there is not tangible proof or data to support autonomous trucks being safer than human drivers. “They could be safer — I’d be delighted if they were — but we don’t know,” Koopman said. “We can’t set policies assuming they’re safer, because there’s no data.” Despite his safety reservations, Koopman acknowledged the U.S. trucking industry’s labor shortage is a legitimate reason to pursue autonomous technology. The American Trucking Associations estimated a shortage of nearly 78,000 drivers last year and projects the shortage could surpass 160,000 drivers by 2030.
Meanwhile, leaders across the industry affirm safety is their main priority, and while North Texas trucks may still have a safety driver inside the vehicle, that’s not the case everywhere.
HOW SOON WILL WE SEE TRUCKS WITHOUT A HUMAN DRIVER?
Before coming to North Texas, Gatik began operations with food retailer Loblaw in Canada and went fully driverless last year. The company also began commercial operations with Walmart in Arkansas, where the retailer is based, in June 2019. Gatik pulled the safety driver out of its trucks in August 2021, Steiner said. “Safety is table stakes, front and center of everything we do,” Steiner said. “It runs deep within the fabric of the company. We always commence operations with a safety driver on board for safety, validation and verification purposes as we ramp up towards driver out on every single new route.
It took about two years to go driver-out in Arkansas, and about 19 months to go driver-out in Canada, Steiner said. “As we ramp up towards driver-out with our customers in Texas, that timeline will continue to shrink,” Steiner said. Steiner said Gatik is looking to remove drivers from vehicles in North Texas by 2024. Volvo’s Sasko Cuklev, head of on-road solutions, could only say his company is “getting close.” “We don’t have all the answers,” Cuklev said. ‘There is a transformation ongoing. We of course want to be part of that, but also learn along the way what is feasible and what is not.”
Cuklev said the race is not to necessarily be first on the road, but rather to develop an industrialized, safe and scalable solution that is commercially viable. Volvo has an ambition to be “one of the winners here,” Cuklev said. “Everything we do, we do with safety in mind, and we will never compromise on that,” Cuklev said.
MP Materials is building a new permanent magnet factory in Alliance, part of greater Fort Worth, Texas. This is part of a $700 million investment to re-shore a critical but often overlooked part of the electric vehicle (EV) supply chain – the manufacture of rare-earth permanent magnets. China is the dominant supplier globally controlling 87% of the global permanent magnet market, and thanks to its control of most of the world’s rare-earth production it is also the low cost producer. Yet MP Materials is building a fully domestic U.S. supply chain in the face of these challenges. There are six parts of its strategy that warrant a closer look, as they could serve as a model for others who are trying to re-shore the production of strategically important products.
1. Vertically integrate and control the inputs
Much of the concern around the security of EV supply chains has centered on lithium, the key metal ingredient of high-capacity batteries. Permanent magnets have gotten less attention, but they deserve a closer look. They play a critical role in compact and efficient motors like those required for EVs, the generators used in wind turbines, and a vast array of products ranging from computer disk drives to the motors used ubiquitously in just about anything that turns electricity into motion. This makes permanent magnets a critical component in most aerospace and defense systems as well. The Pentagon recently halted deliveries of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II multirole combat aircraft (also assembled in Fort Worth) because the Honeywell-made turbomachine (part of the starter generator assembly) had magnet materials coming from China. The most powerful permanent magnets are made from an alloy of neodymium (Nd), iron (Fe), and Boron (B) in the form Nd2Fe14B. For those of you who aren’t chemists, this means two parts of the rare-earth element neodymium, 14 parts iron, and one part boron. As discussed earlier, rare-earths are a family of elements that most people have never heard of, yet they play critical roles in many modern technologies. Neodymium magnets are manufactured with either a sintering process, or a bonding process. General MotorsGM -2.8% was one of the original inventors of this magnet type in 1984.
MP Materials controls one of the world’s premier sources of rare-earth ores – the Mountain Pass mine in California 50 miles southwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. For decades it was the most important source of rare earths in the world. It’s also the only developed commercial source of ore in the Western hemisphere. Historically the company sold the mined ore to Shenghe Resources in Singapore (who had put money into the company) who in turn sold it to processors and magnet makers in China. With the increasing demand for EVs and wind turbines, it made a lot of sense to vertically integrate into magnet manufacturing, assuming you could find people who knew how to make them (and the company assures me that it has). Compared to the scramble we see among battery makers trying to secure supplies of lithium, MP Materials already has a lock on the supply of the most critical ingredient. That’s a huge advantage.
2. Acquire assets on favorable terms
The prior owner of the Mountain Pass Mine, Molycorp, Inc., had invested over $1.7 billion between 2011 and 2014, primarily in the construction of processing and separation facilities but also in implementing a process flow that used a lot of chemicals to extract the rare-earths. Molycorp went bankrupt, and MP Materials was able to acquire the mine and processing facilities in 2017 for $20.5 million. Acquiring assets on favorable terms is always a big plus, as it means you have less capital tied up (in this case, a LOT less).
3. Harness process innovation
After the ore is dug out of the mine, it needs to be processed to extract the rare earth metals, usually in the form of oxides, from all the other stuff you don’t want (called “gangue”). The Mountain Pass mine contains a mineral called bastnasite, and the first step is crushing the mined rocks and grinding them into a milled slurry. The slurry then goes to a froth flotation step where the bastnasite floats while the gangue is washed away to produce a mineral concentrate. MP Materials has optimized a process that allows recycling of 95% of the water used in flotation and tailings management. Compared to the predecessor company, MP Materials has been able to produce more than 3.2x the volume of concentrate using the same capital equipment. That means their costs per ton of rare earth oxide went way down.
In the next step, moving from concentrate production to the separation of individual rare earth oxides, MP implemented a new chemical extraction scheme to reduce costs and the associated environmental footprint. The previous owners had not optimized the process to maximize the production of Nd and Praseodymium (Pr), which are essential to magnets. Instead, they implemented a complex process that maximized production of all rare earths, including abundant but low-value elements that are not essential to magnets like cerium (Ce) and lanthanum (La). To optimize their processing facilities to maximize the production of Nd and Pr, MP Materials reintroduced a roasting circuit, which enables the removal of low-value cerium early in the refining process and dramatically reduces the energy, processing chemicals, and wastewater required to produce higher-value NdPr. This material is what MP Materials plans to transform into magnets in its new Fort Worth factory.
4. Secure stable demand
Investors always get nervous about large production operations that require big capital investments. How am I going to earn a return on my investment? Who’s going to buy what we produce? One solution is to secure an “offtake agreement,” which means contracting with a customer to buy the output. MP Materials signed up General Motors (GM) to buy rare earth materials, alloys, and finished magnets for the electric motors that it will use in the GMC Hummer, Cadillac LYRIQ, Chevrolet Silverado, and other EV models that will use its Ultium vehicle platforms, with a gradual production ramp beginning later this year.
Offtake agreements are quite common for many green energy projects, as they provide a degree of demand certainty for investments that take a long time to earn a return. Many wind energy projects don’t get started with construction until an offtake agreement is signed. Another possibility is a direct project investment: GM invested $650 million in Lithium Americas Corporation to help it develop the Thacker Pass mine in Humboldt County, Nevada.
5. Take advantage of interim subsidies to build scale
One of the forces that really makes this whole project work are subsidies for the production of critical minerals under Section 45X of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). This provision provides a 10% tax credit for the production of rare earths at Mountain Pass and other critical minerals production facilities across America. But Matt Sloustcher, the head of Government Affairs at MP Materials, pointed out that “in 117,000 words of the Inflation Reduction Act, the word magnet was not actually printed once.” To fill this gap, members of Congress recently introduced legislation to provide a production credit for the manufacturing of permanent magnets. Of course, eventually any subsidies will come to an end, and in the meantime MP Materials can build scale and come down the learning curve on cost. This is exactly what Chinese EV manufacturers did, so it’s not a bad model.
6. Choose a location that wants you, one where you can access talent
MP Materials chose Fort Worth because the city wanted them. “We recognized the importance of these magnets when it comes to domestic infrastructure, and how important they are to ensuring that Texas and the U.S. has direct access to these kinds of technologies,” explained Robert Sturns, Director of Economic Development for the City of Fort Worth. “We wanted to do everything we could to help out and ensure that Fort Worth could be part of it.” That included a seven-year tax abatement, a space in Alliance that was permitted for heavy industrial, which meant MP Materials was able to quickly secure permits to get construction going. Speed of permitting is an area where the U.S. suffers badly in comparison to abroad.
Workforce availability is also key. The Materials Science and Engineering Department at Texas A&M is growing quickly and will soon be one of the largest Materials Science departments in the country. Locally, the University of Texas at Arlington is heavily engaged in training next-generation engineers, and Tarrant County College is helping to teach the skills MP Materials is looking for in new employees.
MP Material’s domestic manufacturing plan is a great example of what a re-shoring strategy could look like. Let’s hope it works.
FORT WORTH, Texas (May 2, 2023) – Hillwood announces recent lease renewal and expansion with Cummins Clean Fuel Technologies, further expanding their alternative fuel technology footprint in AllianceTexas and the North Texas region. Cummins Clean Fuel Technologies manufactures Cummins-branded natural gas fuel delivery systems at their facility in AllianceTexas for the North American commercial vehicle market.
“We are proud to be a leader in renewable natural gas (RNG) in the commercial vehicle industry and continue to support the intermediate and long-term growth potential of RNG vehicles due to the environmental and economic benefits, imminent regulatory requirements and corporate ESG goals,” said Mike Zimmerman, General Manager, Cummins Clean Fuel Technologies. “With our newly expanded space, we are better able to meet the growing demand for natural gas fuel systems as well as innovate and bring new products to market to support a wide variety of customers,” Zimmerman added.
When powered by RNG, using methane collected from organic waste as the primary fuel source, engines can be credited with a neutral to negative carbon index, resulting in net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at or below zero. Cummins Clean Fuel Technologies is expanding its operations to include an additional 50% of manufacturing space and will now occupy nearly 160,000 square feet in AllianceTexas’ Gateway 57 building at 1051 Republic Drive, Roanoke, Texas.
“Hillwood’s commitment to convene leaders in logistics and supply chain innovation and alternative fuel solutions, here at AllianceTexas, is showcased by our enthusiastic reception of Cummins Clean Fuel Technologies expansion,” said Sam Rhea, director of industrial leasing at Hillwood. “By offering a variety of CNG fuel system configurations, Cummins Clean Fuel Technologies is well-positioned to meet the needs of fleets at AllianceTexas and beyond who have adopted natural gas technology.”
Hillwood, the developer of the 27,000-acre master-planned, mixed-use AllianceTexas development, recently established the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone (MIZ) in North Texas. The AllianceTexas MIZ is leading smart infrastructure deployment to create a robust ecosystem for commercializing new technologies across the supply chain. The MIZ connects the people, places and ideas needed to propel innovation in surface and air mobility forward by offering businesses full access to an unparalleled ecosystem, resources and partnerships essential to comprehensively scale and commercialize the latest logistics and mobility technologies.
AllianceTexas is also home to a robust e-commerce network, including Perot Field Fort Worth Alliance Airport, BNSF Railway Alliance Intermodal Facility, FedEx Ground Hub, two UPS Ground Sort Hubs, the FedEx Express Southwest Regional Air Hub and Amazon Air Regional Hub.
Michael Haggar and John Worthen of JLL represented Cummins in the transaction. Samuel Rhea and Reid Goetz of Hillwood represented Hillwood.
AllianceTexas is an unparalleled regional success story that has transformed the North Texas economy and connected the area to global industry. Consisting of 27,000 acres, the Hillwood development is anchored by the world’s first dedicated industrial airport, Perot Field Fort Worth Alliance Airport, and hosts one of the nation’s premier intermodal hubs. Today, AllianceTexas is home to 560 companies that have created more than 66,000 direct jobs and has approximately 55 million square feet of developed commercial real estate assets. The development’s cumulative impact since 1989 is an estimated $111 billion for the North Texas region. AllianceTexas is a mobility innovation zone and boasts corporate headquarters, healthcare providers, higher education centers, shopping and entertainment destinations, and vibrant residential communities. For additional information, please visit www.alliancetexas.com.
MP Materials Begins Construction on Texas Rare Earth Magnetics Factory to Restore Full U.S. Supply Chain
- MP Materials and General Motors simultaneously announce a definitive supply agreement commencing in late 2023 to produce rare earth alloy and magnets for GM’s EV programs
- The facility will create approximately 150 skilled jobs and approximately 1,300 indirect jobs
- MP Materials’ Texas magnetics facility will source materials from Mountain Pass, California, and produce magnets powering approximately 500,000 EV motors per year, with potential to scale
- The facility is a substantial component of a $700 million investment MP Materials will make to fully restore the U.S. rare earth magnetics supply chain over the next two years
- Integrated recycling and leading environmental capabilities will deliver world class sustainability to support the energy transition
FORT WORTH, TEXAS, April 21, 2022 – MP Materials Corp. (NYSE: MP) today commemorates the start of construction at its first rare earth metal, alloy, and magnet manufacturing facility, located in Fort Worth, Texas. The first-of-its kind U.S. facility is a substantial component of a $700 million investment the company will make over the next two years to fully restore the U.S. rare earth magnetics supply chain. The project will create around 150 high-skill jobs and 1,300 indirect jobs and is located in Hillwood’s 27,000-acre, mixed-use development, AllianceTexas.
In parallel, MP Materials and General Motors (NYSE: GM) are co-announcing a definitive supply agreement to produce alloy and magnets for GM’s EV programs. The definitive supply agreement solidifies the terms of a binding agreement announced by MP Materials and GM in December. Under the long-term agreement, MP Materials will supply U.S.-sourced and manufactured rare earth materials, alloy, and finished magnets for the electric motors in more than a dozen models using GM’s Ultium Platform, with a gradual production ramp that is expected to begin in late 2023, starting with alloy.
MP Materials’ Fort Worth facility will have the capacity to produce approximately 1,000 tonnes of neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) magnets per year, supporting the production of approximately 500,000 EV traction motors, with room to scale. In addition to EVs, NdFeB magnets are critical inputs to robots, wind turbines, drones, defense systems, and many other high-growth technologies. Adamas Intelligence, an independent research firm, forecasts that global demand for NdFeB magnets will triple by 2035 on the back of rising demand for EV traction motors, wind power generators, energy efficient consumer appliances, and more.
In February, the Department of Defense awarded MP Materials $35 million to refine and separate heavy rare earth elements at the company’s Mountain Pass, California, rare earth materials production facility. MP’s Texas magnetics factory will source refined feedstock from Mountain Pass and transform it into finished products, delivering an end-to-end supply chain, including mining and refining, metal, alloy, and magnet manufacturing, and recycling.
Mountain Pass is a closed loop, zero-discharge facility with a dry tailings process that recycles more than 1.7 billion liters of water per year. To optimize for efficiency and sustainability, byproduct generated from alloy and magnet manufacturing will be recycled in a closed loop to every extent possible.
James Litinsky, Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer, MP Materials
“Bringing magnetics capabilities home is transformational for MP Materials and America’s supply chains. I am very proud that after a series of executive orders spanning multiple presidential administrations MP Materials is leading the restoration of the full supply chain and the revitalization of the American manufacturing spirit in our sector.”
Anirvan Coomer, Executive Director, Global Purchasing & Supply Chain, General Motors
“The new MP Materials magnetics facility in Fort Worth, Texas, will play a key role in GM’s journey to build a secure, scalable, and sustainable EV supply chain. As the foundational automotive customer of the Fort Worth facility, GM will use the products from this plant in the GMC HUMMER EV, Cadillac LYRIQ, Chevrolet Silverado EV, and more than a dozen models based on GM’s Ultium platform. We also look forward to collaborating with MP Materials from a public policy perspective to seek policies that are supportive of the establishment of an efficient U.S.-based rare earth and magnet supply chain.”
Ross Perot Jr., Chairman, Hillwood and The Perot Group
“Today is an exciting day for North Texas and our entire country. MP Materials is not only bringing their state-of-the art magnetics facility to AllianceTexas, but also reshoring important next-generation manufacturing jobs to America. Securing and developing rare earth materials is one of the most important national security issues of our day, and we’re proud that AllianceTexas can partner with MP Materials to play a key role in America’s ability to power its future.”
The Honorable Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator for Texas
“The United States needs to do everything we can to end our dangerous dependence on China for rare earth elements and critical minerals across the entire supply chain. It is both significant and important that MP Materials is going beyond mining and into alloying and manufacturing, and I’m deeply proud of the role Texas is playing in these projects.”
The Honorable Kay Granger, U.S. Representative for Texas
“MP’s investment will bring hundreds of new jobs and millions in economic growth to the TX-12 community. Rare earth materials are crucial for many defense systems, and by producing these much-needed magnets, this facility will reduce our dependence on countries like China. For the sake of our national security, we must continue to increase domestic rare earth production, and I’m proud that we will do that right here in Fort Worth.”
The Honorable Beth Van Duyne, U.S. Representative for Texas
“Rare earth magnets are essential for U.S. economic and national security, and it is vital to our national interest that we manufacture these components at scale here at home. I applaud MP Materials for building this landmark facility in Fort Worth, and I’m pleased that Texas is at the forefront of restoring this important supply chain back to America.”
The Honorable Marc Veasey, U.S. Representative for Texas
“Rare earth magnets are critical to the energy transition and security of the United States. It is essential we manufacture these components in the United States from domestic materials sourced in an environmentally responsible manner. The people of TX-33 are prepared to support and lead this effort.”
The Honorable Michael Burgess, U.S. Representative for Texas
“When it comes to solving the energy crisis facing our nation, we need innovative and visionary solutions at the forefront. It is exciting that Texas is able to welcome another energy provider today with the groundbreaking of MP Materials’ new rare earth alloying and magnet manufacturing facility. I hope you will join me in welcoming MP Materials to our community.”
The Honorable Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas
“Congratulations to MP Materials on the groundbreaking of their new magnet manufacturing facility and engineering headquarters in Fort Worth. This incredible investment will not only create more than 100 new jobs for hardworking Texans, but will also bolster the state’s supply chain in high-tech industries while solidifying Texas as a mecca for advanced manufacturing and innovation. It’s thanks to industry innovators like MP Materials that ‘Made in Texas’ continues to be the most powerful global brand.”
The Honorable Mattie Parker, Mayor of Fort Worth
“This new MP Materials facility is an excellent fit for the groundbreaking work being done at AllianceTexas, and it presents an incredible opportunity to bring more advanced manufacturing jobs home to the U.S. right here in Fort Worth. Our local, state, and national economic and mobility goals require secure development of rare earth magnets, and I am proud that Fort Worth will serve as a center for our nation’s focus on advancing this effort.”
About MP Materials
MP Materials Corp. (NYSE: MP) is the largest producer of rare earth materials in the Western Hemisphere. The Company owns and operates the Mountain Pass Rare Earth Mine and Processing Facility in California, North America’s only active and scaled rare earth production site. Separated rare earth elements are critical inputs to the world’s most powerful and efficient magnets found in electric vehicles, drones, defense systems, wind turbines and various advanced technologies. The Company is developing U.S. metal, alloy and magnet manufacturing capacity to build these critical components domestically. More information is available at https://mpmaterials.com/.
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This press release contains certain statements that are not historical facts and are forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions under the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of words such as “estimate,” “plan,” “project,” “forecast,” “intend,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “seek,” “will,” “target,” or similar expressions that predict or indicate future events or trends or that are not statements of historical matters. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the Company’s expected investment to restore the rare earth supply chain in the United States, the expected number of employees and jobs being created in connection with the Company’s Forth Worth facility, statements regarding the long-term agreement with General Motors and the Company’s ability and timing to supply U.S.-produced NdFeB alloy and magnets. Such statements are all subject to risks, uncertainties and changes in circumstances that could significantly affect the Company’s future financial results and business.
Accordingly, the Company cautions that the forward-looking statements contained herein are qualified by important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those reflected by such statements. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, including changes in domestic and foreign business, market, financial, political and legal conditions; uncertainty of the projected financial information with respect to the Company; continued demand for NdFeB magnets which may decrease materially in the future; risks related to the Company’s long-term agreement with General Motors; the Company’s ability to produce and supply NdFeB magnets to third parties, including General Motors, is subject to a number of uncertainties and contingencies; the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, on any of the foregoing risks; and those risk factors discussed in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and other documents filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission. If any of these risks materialize or our assumptions prove incorrect, actual results could differ materially from the results implied by these forward-looking statements. The Company does not intend to update publicly any forward-looking statements except as required by law. In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, the forward-looking events discussed in this earnings release may not occur.
Hillwood hosted the second annual Forward Fort Worth mobility innovation summit early in March this year, a gathering of 150 supply chain executives, entrepreneurs, and investors from across the globe committed to advancing and commercializing mobility innovation throughout the supply chain.
“Now more than ever, surface and air mobility innovation across the supply chain requires a powerful combination of people, places and unparalleled strategic partnerships,” said Hillwood Director of Logistics Innovation Ian Kinne. “The two-day event provided a great opportunity for discussion on the innovative technologies and advancements that will ultimately shape the future of mobility for a wide variety of supply chain stakeholders.”
On March 1st, Mike Berry, president of Hillwood, was joined by Fort Worth Mayor, Mattie Parker and Perot Jain Managing Partner, Anurag Jain to welcome attendees and kick off the program at Hotel Drover in Mule Alley. With the overarching goal of driving cross-stakeholder conversations that accelerate the commercialization of transformative mobility technologies throughout the supply chain, the two-day event featured the following panel topics:
• Warehouse of the Future
• The Integration & Commercialization of Advanced Air Mobility Aircraft
• The Future of Transportation: OEM Perspective
• FreightWaves State of the Market
• Which Comes First, Vehicles or the Infrastructure?
• Investing in Technologies for Resilient Supply Chains
Speakers and panelists represented AFWERX, City of Fort Worth, ConGlobal, Crown Castle, DroneUp, FAA Southwest Region, FreightWaves, Gideon, Great Dane, Hillwood, Ironspring Ventures, Joby Aviation, NASA, NFI, Nikola Corp., PepsiCo, Perot Jain, Peterbilt Motors, Robotic Research, Ryder System, Inc., Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, Terberg Taylor Americas, Uber Freight, Visit Fort Worth, and Waabi.
Why it’s important: Hillwood’s Forward Mobility Summit focused on an entire mobility ecosystem and included attendees from various areas of the industry, not just on companies manufacturing eVTOLs or electric vehicles or the IT or software firms that help to coordinate logistical problems; the summit helped to bring together a variety of players that more completely represent multimodal approaches to mobility and who will hopefully be able to leverage one another’s strengths to more efficiently build out the future mobility landscape in Fort Worth and beyond.
Learn more about Hillwood’s focus on convening mobility innovators and visionaries at the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone here.
To help foster partnerships between public and private entities that drive research, new product development, commercialization and supporting activities, Fort Worth City Council approved a new policy on March 21 that defines and guides the formal designation of innovation districts.
According to a city press release, two areas of Fort Worth that were already well-known as clusters of innovation in the city’s target industries—the Fort Worth Medical Innovation District and the Fort Worth Mobility Innovation Zone—were also formally designated as innovation zones.
Innovation districts are specific geographic areas where, according to the press release, clusters of companies and anchor institutions can connect with start-ups, business incubators, and accelerators and producers of marketable intellectual property, and are typically defined by the following characteristics:
Organizations within the district tend to focus on a specific industry or set of interrelated industries.
The district itself is focused on interconnectivity by being—or becoming—walkable and transit-accessible, and offering supporting mixed-use housing, office and retail to create a true “live, work and play” environment.
The district is defined by clear and specific boundaries that include key anchor institutions, such as a university or research hospital, and related businesses that distinguish the area from its surrounding neighborhood.
Fort Worth’s innovation districts must be fully located within the city limits or its extraterritorial jurisdiction.
According to the press release, the terms of Fort Worth’s innovation districts are indefinite, but each district will be evaluated after five years to reassess its boundaries and recommend any changes. The evaluation will also include an analysis of the district’s continued benefit to the city.
The boundaries of the Fort Worth Medical Innovation District includes I-30 and Vickery Boulevard to the north; Allen Street and West Arlington Avenue to the south; east across I-35W to Kentucky and Evans avenues; and west to the Fort Worth & Western Railroad.
The district includes Texas Christian University’s new Anne Marion Burnett School of Medicine, UT Southwestern’s academic medical center, biotech incubator TechFW, Fort Worth’s major hospitals and dozens of independent clinics.
The press release stated the Fort Worth Medical Innovation District will also include several nodes of innovation outside of the district’s boundaries, including the campuses of Texas A&M School of Law, University of North Texas Health Science Center and The University of Texas at Arlington’s Research Institute.
According to the press release, the Fort Worth Mobility Innovation Zone is anchored by Alliance Airport and Alliance Intermodal Facility, and continues north along I-35W near Texas Motor Speedway. It includes the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone—an area that allows for the testing, scaling and commercialization of new technologies in surface and air mobility, along with supporting resources and partnerships.
The MIZ’s unmanned aerial system proving grounds were the testing site for Alphabet’s Wing drone delivery service, according to the press release. The MIZ is home several autonomous trucking operations and logistics companies, including Clevon, an Estonian-based company that develops self-driving robot couriers, that opened in its U.S. headquarters in Fort Worth in late 2022.
16 March, St. Patrick’s Day eve, Washington DC, following successful operations in Ireland, Manna is commencing a trial in Dallas/Ft.Worth area in partnership with multinational real estate development company Hillwood, to initially offer drone delivery to a select number of Hillwood’s residential developments. Hillwood is the developer of AllianceTexas, a 27,000-acre mixed-use, master-planned community and home to the Mobility Innovation Zone. Manna has created a plan to make lightning-fast drone delivery service available to over 10,000 local residents, pending suitable approvals from the FAA.
“As the division of Hillwood that creates a community for generations of Texas families, innovation is one of our guiding principles when we envision and develop Lifestyle by HillwoodSM communities,” said Fred Balda, president of Hillwood Communities. “We are excited to partner with Hillwood’s Mobility Innovation Zone team and Manna to use new technologies and bring innovation direct to our families’ doorstep.”
“We’re excited to work with Manna as a key operator at the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone, where they can scale and commercialize drone delivery in one of the world’s most unique environments,” said Christopher Ash, senior vice president of aviation business development for Hillwood. “At Hillwood, we are a team collaborating to bring innovative supply chain technologies to North Texas and provide next-level amenities to the communities we reach.”
This move comes in tandem with a strategic investment in Manna Drone Delivery from Coca-Cola HBC, strategic bottling partner of The Coca-Cola Company. Through its Ventures arm, Coca-Cola HBC, collaborates with disruptive start-ups that have synergies with its business ambitions in the areas of last mile, vending, coffee technology and sustainability.
Manna is on a mission to improve the world by making lightning-fast suburban deliveries affordable, green and safe. Manna, the world’s leading independent drone delivery startup designs, builds and operates unmanned aerial vehicles that perform high-speed deliveries of up to 3.5 kgs (7lbs) in high-density suburban last-mile settings.
On the partnerships Bobby Healy CEO and Founder of Manna said, “We are delighted to partner with two major brands, Coca-Cola HBC and Hillwood on our journey to bring a new form of delivery to suburban homes and as we start to scale globally. Working with Hillwood who develop technology-forward, innovative lifestyle communities and with Coca-Cola HBC who are committed to more sustainable and advanced delivery solutions is testament to the realisation that last mile delivery can be done in a more efficient, safer and greener way.”
With this partnership and investment, Coca-Cola HBC is at the forefront of revolutionising the route to market. It also supports Coca-Cola HBC’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions across its value chain by 2040, investing in this delivery method that has been proven to emit up to eight times less CO2 compared to car delivery*.
For Manna, the strategic partnership will provide insights and expertise from a market leading beverage company, and over time, the two organisations will work to identify opportunities for Manna to scale across Coca-Cola HBC’s territories.
Zoran Bogdanovic, CEO, Coca-Cola HBC said; “Our investment in Manna Drone Delivery, one of the most innovative drone delivery start-up companies in the world, encapsulates our ambition to deliver our products in new and more sustainable ways. We are excited about this partnership which allows us to be at the forefront of disruptive technologies across the worldwide consumer packaged goods (CPG) market. Furthermore, with up to eight times less* CO2 compared to car delivery, this partnership with Manna Drones is another step in our journey to achieve net zero emissions across our value chain by 2040.”
Manna is currently serving a Dublin suburb, where the population of 35,000 can be supported with up to 280 deliveries a day and it recently confirmed that it will expand soon to another Dublin suburb, with a population of over 100,000. Making it the largest drone delivery operation in Europe.
Manna is working with the FAA to earn approvals that leverage Manna’s strong progress and demonstrated regulatory success with EASA, Europe’s aviation regulator.
On the announcement – Leo Varadkar, An Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) “Congratulations to Manna, an Enterprise Ireland client company, on entering the US market, marking the beginning of their global expansion. Manna is a great example of Irish innovation, transforming industries and partnering with global brands. I wish them every success for this new venture.”
adding “I really love to see Irish companies like Manna growing at home and then going global. The fact that Manna is now a foreign direct investor in the US is further evidence that our economic relationship with America is a two-way street”
To date Manna has raised over $40m from investors such as Enterprise Ireland, Molten Ventures, Partners of DST Global ffVC, Dynamo Ventures, and Tapestry VC, CCHBC Ventures, Radius Capital.
*Manna commissioned a study with the University of Maynooth, which set out to compare the amount of carbon emitted during drone delivery to terrestrial forms of delivery, including cars, motorbikes and electric bikes, and whether drones were the cleanest, most efficient means of last mile delivery. This study showed that Manna’s drone emitted between 6 & 8 times less C02 than a small petrol car (1.4L engine) and that although e-bikes may emit slightly less carbon dioxide, they take twice as long as drones to complete deliveries. You can view the full study here.
About Coca-Cola HBC and Coca-Cola HBC Ventures
Coca-Cola HBC is a growth-focused consumer packaged goods business and strategic bottling partner of The Coca-Cola Company. We create value for all our stakeholders by supporting the socio-economic development of the communities in which we operate, and we believe building a more positive environmental impact is integral to our future growth. Together, we and our customers serve 715 million consumers across a broad geographic footprint of 29 countries. Our portfolio is one of the strongest, broadest and most flexible in the beverage industry, offering consumer-leading beverage brands in the sparkling, juice, water, sport, energy, plant-based, ready-to-drink tea, coffee, adult sparkling and premium spirits categories. These beverages include Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero, Schweppes, Kinley, Costa Coffee, Valser, Römerquelle, Fanta, Sprite, Powerade, FuzeTea, Dobry, Cappy, Monster and Adez. We foster an open and inclusive work environment amongst our 33,000 employees and we are ranked among the top sustainability performers in ESG benchmarks such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, CDP, MSCI ESG and FTSE4Good.
Through its Ventures arm, Coca-Cola HBC partners with disruptive start-ups in its geographical footprint and beyond and seeks ideas that address the challenges it strives to overcome. The start-up solutions must be relevant to its industry and aligned with its focus areas of Last Mile (B2B, direct to consumer, logistics, customer connections), vending and touchless technology; coffee technology and equipment; and sustainable packaging and climate change. Coca-Cola HBC Ventures invests in the potential of these start-ups and offers a testing ground for ideas, validating and building credibility for their concepts.
For more information, visit Coca-ColaHellenic.com.
Manna is the world’s first aviation-grade B2B drone delivery ‘as-a-service’ company. The Manna drone fleet is operated by Manna directly from the restaurant or dark kitchen premises and is accessible via API to food tech providers and online food platforms alike in a channel-agnostic manner. One fleet for all demand.
Manna is licensed by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) with a ‘light UAS operator certificate’ (LUC). Manna received the first (LUC) for commercial drone delivery issued by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) & European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), opening up Europe-wide opportunities for the company. Manna also worked with the Irish Government and national health service (HSE) on a pilot test delivering medication to those who needed it to demonstrate the applications of drone delivery.
Manna fly custom-developed aerospace grade drones to deliver products directly to customer’s homes with an average flight time of just three minutes. The drones fly at an altitude of 50-80 metres and at a speed of over 60kph. To date Manna has raised over €40m from investors such as Molten Ventures, Tapestry VC, Partners of DST Global, Dynamo Ventures, ffVC and others.
Developed by Hillwood, AllianceTexas is an unparalleled regional success story that has transformed the North Texas economy and connected the area to global industry. Consisting of 27,000 acres, the development is anchored by the world’s first dedicated industrial airport, Perot Field Fort Worth Alliance Airport (AFW), and hosts one of the nation’s premier intermodal hubs. Today, AllianceTexas is home to 562 companies that have created more than 66,000 direct jobs and have approximately 55 million square feet of developed commercial real estate assets. The development’s cumulative impact since 1989 is an estimated $111.5 billion for the North Texas region. For additional information, please visit www.alliancetexas.com.
The AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone (MIZ) spans the 27,000-acre industrial-focused, public-private ecosystem that brings policymakers and industry innovators together to propel surface and air mobility forward. By leveraging its one-of-a-kind infrastructure, the MIZ offers unparalleled resources to comprehensively scale and commercialize the latest logistics and mobility technologies. For more information on the AllianceTexas MIZ and how your organization can be part of this industry-shaping environment, visit www.alliancetexasmiz.com.
About Hillwood Communities
Through its Communities division, Hillwood has delivered close to 50,000 single-family lots in more than 100 master-planned communities across 13 states and 2 countries. These communities continue to raise the bar in terms of quality, innovation, and the unmistakable sense of community that sets each property apart. Before laying the physical groundwork for any new residential development, Hillwood Communities takes the time to focus on the ideals that draw people together — and the everyday interactions that strengthen those bonds. By purposefully designing its walkways, gathering spaces, and structural amenities to spark spontaneous encounters and foster shared interests, Hillwood Communities believes in the power of community. For more information, visit?www.hillwoodcommunities.com.
Manna, the Irish drone delivery start-up, is expanding into the US after securing an investment from Coca-Cola HBC.
The Dublin-based company has been operating in parts of its home city in recent years, carrying out delivery by unmanned drones of food and consumer products like electronics.
It is now launching a trial of its service in the Dallas/Fort Worth area through a partnership with real estate development firm Hillwood.
The pair will test drone delivery within a 27,000-acre mixed-use development in the area.
Approvals from the FAA for the trial are pending.
Ahead of the deal, Coca-Cola HBC, a partner of the soft drink giant, has invested in Manna. Figures for the deal have not been disclosed.
Manna chief executive Bobby Healy said the latest moves are the first steps for the company to scaling internationally.
“Working with Hillwood who develop technology-forward, innovative lifestyle communities and with Coca-Cola HBC who are committed to more sustainable and advanced delivery solutions is testament to the realization that last mile delivery can be done in a more efficient, safer and greener way,” Healy said.
Christopher Ash, senior vice president of aviation business development for Hillwood, said the mixed-use development provides a unique environment to test new technologies.
“At Hillwood, we are a team collaborating to bring innovative supply chain technologies to North Texas and provide next-level amenities to the communities we reach,” he said.
The Coca-Cola HBC investment will also see Manna collaborate with the bottling partner on other new ventures.
Last year Healy said in an interview that Manna would first expand in Europe before looking to the US. It is understood the company is still planning mainland European operations this year.
The trial in Dallas/Fort Worth puts Manna right in the crosshairs of one of its competitors. Israeli drone delivery company Flytrex has been operating in the area in recent years as well as another location in North Carolina, as it focused on the US market first.
Meanwhile Alphabet and Amazon are active in the space. Despite the presence of large tech companies in the field, drone delivery’s market leader position still remains up for grabs, even close to decade after Amazon first unveiled its drone aspirations. Regulatory challenges continue to disrupt Amazon’s plans, according to a recent report.
Manna has previously raised $40 million funding from backers including Dynamo Ventures and Molten Ventures.