Officials in Pinal County, Arizona are considering ways to raise the money needed to purchase 500 acres of land near the city of Casa Grande where Lucid Motors intends to build its $700 million electric car factory. The proposed manufacturing facility was the subject of a high profile press event earlier this month that featured Arizona governor Doug Ducey. All parties acknowledge Ducey was a key player in landing the project for the state of Arizona.
There is only one problem with the deal — the taxpayers of Arizona are expected to pay for the purchase of the land and contribute a significant amount of money to help it get the factory built and operational. When and if everything goes as planned, the factory is expected to create 2,000 jobs in an area where many are unemployed or underemployed.
The land itself will cost $31.8 million, Financing the purchase over 30 years will add another $41.6 million, but Pinal County spokesperson Joe Pyritz says the plan is to lease the land after is is purchased (presumably to Lucid Motors, although the county is not allowed to say so for the record) and then sell it at the end of 5 years. That arrangement would cap the total cost of the deal at $35 million. The sale price is expected to equal the total outlay made by the county for principal and interest.
However, first someone has to actually buy the land. County supervisors will meet in January to consider how to do that. The leading proposal is to finance the purchase by raising property taxes or imposing a countywide sales tax surcharge. Pyritz says if the supervisors decide on a tax increase, the new tax would only cover the land deal and would end once the tax funding reimburses the county for the purchase cost.
Lucid will get other sweeteners to bring its business to Pinal County. The project involves what the Phoenix New Times calls “a significant amount of corporate welfare.” Lucid Motors will be eligible for up to $46.5 million in various subsidies offered by the state through the Arizona Commerce Authority over the next five years. Those subsidies will be coupled with certain performance targets.
The subsidies include:
- $5 million in grant money over five years, dependent on meeting specified job-creation and capital-investment milestones.
- $1.5 million in grant money for job training. The company would pay for the cost of training employees and the state would reimburse 75 percent of the cost over two years.
- $40 million in refundable tax credits under the Qualified Facility Tax Credit Program the legislature created in 2012.
Susan Marie, spokeswoman for the Arizona Commerce Authority is quick to point out that the total amount is far less than the $335 million in tax credits promised to Faraday Future or the $1.3 billion in similar credits promised to Tesla Motors by the state of Nevada.
Lucid revealed its 1,000 horsepower proposed production car — the Lucid Air — last week. The 4 door sedan is said to have up to a 135 kWh battery capacity and capable of driving 400 miles per single charge. The result is something that tops Tesla’s flagship Model S P100D and by a considerable margin. Does that mean Lucid will win customers away from Tesla?
That’s unlikely. Granted that Lucid may have an edge in some areas, it lacks a charging infrastructure. Without something comparable to Tesla’s Supercharger network while having no brand recognition, peeling customers away from Tesla will be a lot harder than just offering a larger battery. But first, Lucid needs to build a factory. That first step is far from guaranteed despite lofty promises form the company.