Dallas council members will vote Wednesday on whether to approve an economic development agreement with Ford in the hopes of being home to the automaker’s next autonomous vehicle facility.
Ford, an investor and customer of AV technology company Argo AI, are working together to commercialize the technology. The two companies have established three test vehicle depots in Austin, Miami and Washington D.C. in a run up to its commercialization plans. The facility in Dallas, if the location is ultimately chosen by Ford would be similar to those 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 self-driving vehicles on ride-hailing company Lyft’s app in a number of cities over the next five years, beginning with Miami and Austin.
If the agenda item passes with Dallas’s Office of Economic Development, Ford might be looking at over $3 million in proposed tax breaks over the span of five years. The city would also commit a $250,000 grant toward the construction of the facility, which is proposed to be located at a 32,361-square-foot space at 2335 Burbank Street. To meet its end of the bargain, Ford would need to create a minimum of 250 new jobs and invest a minimum of $160 million, including the AV fleet, at the property.
The Dallas site is one of three final locations that Ford is scouting for its new AV facility, according to city documents. The other two are in California, where Ford’s AV unit already has a presence. However, Ford might see the benefits of building in Texas, a state that doesn’t require permits to operate driverless autonomous vehicles. California, on the other hand, requires separate permits for testing with a driver, testing without a driver, commercial autonomous delivery deployment and commercial robotaxi deployment.
Ford would not comment on the Dallas City Council’s agenda item, saying it has not made any decisions or chosen any additional cities to expand to, and that “this is all preliminary.”
“Ford is building its self-driving business for ride-hailing and goods delivery in Austin, Texas, Miami and Washington, D.C., and focused on building a profitable self-driving business,” the company told TechCrunch. “Scaling this technology is key, driving us to explore a variety of cities in the U.S. to expand our self-driving services. We will share more information about our self-driving business in the future.”