Dallas board members will vote on Wednesday on approving an economic development deal with Ford in hopes of housing the automaker’s next autonomous vehicle facility.
Ford, an investor and customer of technology company AV Argo AI, is working together to commercialize the technology. The two companies have established three test vehicle depots in Austin, Miami and Washington DC in preparation for their commercialization plans. The Dallas facility, if the site is chosen by Ford, would be similar to these operations. (Argo also has its own test fleets and facilities in Pittsburgh, Detroit and Palo Alto.)
The two companies plan to launch at least 1,000 autonomous vehicles on the Lyft app in multiple cities over the next five years, starting with Miami and Austin.
If the agenda item is approved by the Dallas Office of Economic Development, Ford could be looking at more than $3 million in proposed tax breaks over five years. The city would also commit a $250,000 donation towards the construction of the facility, which is proposed to be located on a 32,361-square-foot space at 2335 Burbank Street. To fulfill its end of the deal, Ford would need to create a minimum of 250 new jobs and invest a minimum of $160 million, including AV fleet, in the property.
The Dallas site is one of three final locations that Ford is looking for for its new AV facility, according to city documents. The other two are in California, where Ford’s AV unit is already present. However, Ford can see the benefits of building in Texas, a state that does not require licenses to operate driverless autonomous vehicles. California, on the other hand, requires separate licenses for driver testing, driverless testing, commercial autonomous delivery deployment and commercial robotaxi deployment.
Ford declined to comment on the Dallas City Council agenda item, saying it has not made any decisions or chosen other cities to expand and that “this is all preliminary.”
“Ford is building its self-driving business for freight transportation and delivery in Austin, Texas, Miami and Washington, DC, and has focused on building a profitable self-driving business,” the company told Ploonge. “Scaling this technology is critical, leading us to explore a variety of cities across the US to expand our self-driving services. We will share more information about our autonomous driving business in the future.”