energy insights

Investing in Opportunity

It certainly seems that electric vehicles (EV) are the future of mobility and anyone who doubts that should look at Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Forbes magazine just named him the richest man in the world, due mostly to his Tesla stockholdings, which has had an amazing runup in price over the last two years.

Oklahoma is making significant investments to grow our own EV industry as the EV future is growing into a reality. A couple years ago, Tulsa was competing head-to-head with Austin, Texas, for Tesla’s largest planned Gigafactory. Oklahoma ultimately lost that race, but state business and governmental leaders have not given up.

Oklahoma seeks to grow state’s EV industry

In mid-April, Oklahoma’s governor, Kevin Stitt, asked lawmakers to approve an economic development package of nearly $700 million to lure a giant EV battery maker to Oklahoma. The company, widely reported to be Panasonic, is looking to build a multibillion-dollar factory in Oklahoma or Kansas to supply specially designed EV batteries to its partner Tesla.

Panasonic also has agreed to produce batteries for the newly emerging EV maker Canoo, which Oklahoma recruited to the state in 2021 through a $300 million economic incentive offer. Canoo is slated to open its manufacturing plant at the Mid-America Industrial Park in Pryor in 2023, which happens to be the same industrial park cited for the proposed Panasonic plant.

The Canoo plant is expected to create 1,500 jobs when it opens, and the Panasonic facility could bring as many as 70,000 direct and indirect jobs to the region.

But Canoo and Panasonic are just the latest news in Oklahoma’s journey into the EV industry. The Sooner State began building its portfolio of EV enterprises about a decade ago, when the industry was still in its infancy.

Spiers New Technologies highlights industry opportunities

When Dirk Spiers founded Oklahoma City-based Spires New Technologies in 2014, remanufacturing, repurposing and recycling EV batteries hadn’t even been considered by the automotive industry yet. However, Dirk saw an opportunity and started his company with only two employees in a rented 23,000-square-foot warehouse.

Since then, the pioneering company has grown into an industry leader, employing 70 people and owning 200,000 square feet of testing and remanufacturing space. The company provides battery refurbishing services for major automakers such as General Motors, Ford, Nissan, Volkswagen, Toyota and others.

“When I first got the keys to the first building, I thought we were too ambitious, too naïve, that we would never fill that building,” Spiers said. “And within a year it was too small. Then every year we added a building.

“If you embrace the future and accept it, you can make money, create value,” he said. “When I started talking about electric vehicles here, people thought I was nuts. But a lot of people have started to realize that it’s here to stay, and not only here to stay, but is going to take over the industry.”

Major changes are on the horizon in the transportation industry. There is a bright future ahead for Oklahoma, and we at Galvanic Energy are excited to be part of it.

Francis Energy charging forward

Meanwhile, Tulsa-based Francis Energy has been making Oklahoma a friendlier state for electric vehicles since 2015, building fast-charging stations in cities and rural areas across the state.

“Francis’s mission is to eliminate range anxiety and to ensure that no community is left behind or without charging access as we shift to increased use of electric vehicles,” Francis Energy President David Jankowsky says.

The company founder hopes Francis Energy can make electric vehicles more practical for people in counties outside of major urban areas where fewer than 20 people per 10,000 own electric vehicles. That compares with more than 100 out of 10,000 people in major metro areas.

Those numbers may change as Ford rolls out more of its all-electric F-150 Lighting pickups, he says. Chevy and Dodge are also working quickly to roll out new electric versions of the Silverado and Ram pickups.

“While these trucks range in price from $40,000 to $100,000, comparable to Tesla, they’ll likely be more popular in rural areas,” he said. “People love trucks.”

Jankowsky sees change on the horizon, and like a growing number of Oklahoma entrepreneurs, he’s investing funds and resources to get in front of it.

Change is coming. Just look around at the EVs that are already noticeable on the roads, or count the number of EV commercials you see. There is immense opportunity in store for those willing to take a leap of faith or invest. Just ask visionary Elon Musk, who just so happens to be the richest man in the world, thanks mostly for his achievements at Tesla.