Motor City, Metro Vancouver is not.
But the region is now pressing against the accelerator in terms of its electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing capacity with the impending launch of a new motorcycle plant.
Damon Motors Inc. officially broke ground Tuesday on the site of its new head office and manufacturing facility in Surrey, where as many as 40,000 electric motorcycles will be produced annually.
The EVs were all designed at Damon’s East Vancouver headquarters and the company will be making its way to the new head office within the manufacturing facility in about a year’s time.
“It’s super exciting,” said CEO Jay Giraud, who was going over renderings of the new plant as he spoke to BIVon Monday. “I haven't really checked in with myself in a while, but just literally heads down, slamming through an endless mountain of work that only grows faster and bigger.”
The 110,000-square-foot facility will be owned by Bosa Properties, which has entered into a 10-year lease agreement with Damon, and built to the EV company’s specifications.
“We're really lucky to have been selected,” Giraud said.
“There's risks that come with supporting a startup and being able to find a building in a prime location, brand new, state-of-the-art facility, [with] all the right kind of creature comforts that you need to support hundreds of workers.”
The new headquarters and manufacturing plant sits close to Scott Road SkyTrain Station on the Surrey side of the Pattullo Bridge, a location Giraud said serves as a perfect spot for workers funnelling into work from across the region.
There will be about 300 manufacturing jobs based at the facility, while another 500 office jobs will also be there to cover everything from research and development to marketing.
The ground-breaking comes just months after Damon raised US$30 million from investors as demand further ratchets up for EVs.
A July 2020 Deloitte Inc. report forecast sales of electric vehicles will reach 25.3 million by 2030, while plug-in hybrid vehicle sales will reach 5.8 million units.
That combined 31.1 million units far exceeds the 2.5 million sold in 2020.
Meanwhile, demand for Damon’s own motorbikes has continued growing each month since pre-orders launched, according to Giraud.
The company did $4 million in orders last month — a new record — after posting $3.58 million in July and $3.68 million in August.
Prices range from US$17,000-40,000, depending on the model, and Giraud said revenue is expected to hit nearly $1 billion annually by 2025. Another manufacturing plant in Latin America is also expected to be up and running by then.
Damon got its start in 2017, developing collision safety technology for motorcycles benefitting from the depreciating cost of high-end sensors and cameras.
Among the first buyers was the West Vancouver Police Department, which had its own fleet of motorbikes retrofitted with Damon’s technology.
If, for example, a rider has to turn their head to check a blind spot when changing lanes, the sensors will send vibrations to the handlebars to alert them if there’s any danger.
Small cameras in the back of the bike provide the rear-view-mirror angle riders previously didn’t have access to.
But now instead of retrofitting existing motorcycles with these systems, Damon is joining the likes of Vancouver companies such as ElectraMeccanica Vehicles Corp. and GreenPower Motor Co. Inc. by becoming a manufacturer of electric vehicles.
While ElectraMeccanica revealed earlier this year it’s breaking ground on a manufacturing plant in Arizona, Giraud said it was imperative that Damon’s manufacturing takes place close to the company’s RnD centre.
“When you go to places like China or India, you give up so much control,” he said.
“The cachet of where it's been manufactured, that matters a lot.”