City resolution calls for $7.7 million in incentives for autonomous vehicle plant

Project Link, which appears to be shuttle maker Holon, is considering a $100 million facility in Northwest Jacksonville.

  • By Ric Anderson
  • | 2:51 p.m. May 23, 2024
  • | 4 Free Articles Remaining!
The Holon Mover is an autonomous electric vehicle with a top speed of 37 mph. It has seating for up to 15 passengers.
The Holon Mover is an autonomous electric vehicle with a top speed of 37 mph. It has seating for up to 15 passengers.
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Under newly filed legislation, the city of Jacksonville would provide $7.7 million in incentives to an autonomous vehicle company to build a manufacturing and assembly plant in the city.

Resolution 2024-0419, which is scheduled to be introduced at the May 28 Council meeting, would authorize a $7.5 million Recapture Enhanced Value Grant paid out over 10 years and a local training grant of up to $200,000 to the company, which is code-named Project Link in the legislation.

The Daily Record reported April 10 that Project Link appears to be Holon, an automotive brand spun off from Germany-based Benteler Automotive Group. The company’s Holon Mover is an autonomous, fully electric and inclusive shuttle vehicle that was presented in early 2023 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

According to an Office of Economic Development fact sheet attached to the resolution, Project Link plans to build a $100 million, 450,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on about 40 acres in Northwest Jacksonville. The company would employ a minimum of 145 workers at the site and possibly as many as 200. The training grant is based on a rate of $1,000 per job. 

Payroll would exceed $9 million exclusive of benefits. 

The exterior of the 12-passenger all-electric HOLON automated people mover on display May 31 at JTA's National Automated Vehicle Day event at its Armsdale Test & Learn facility in Northwest Jacksonville.

The fact sheet says the state of Florida has committed an $8 million High-Impact Performance Incentive award and a Capital Investment Tax Credit that will cover 100% of the state Corporate Tax Liability for the project. 

Benteler said in a 2023 news release that production is scheduled to start in the U.S. in late 2025, with additional production capacity to be built in Europe and the Middle East/Asia in the following years. The company later changed that date to 2026.

The fact sheet says Project Link is considering sites elsewhere in Florida and in other states. 

Ed Randolph, executive director of the city Office of Economic Development, told the Mayor’s Budget Review Committee on April 8 that he believed Jacksonville has at least a 50-50 chance of landing the plant. The company plans to manufacture parts and assemble vehicles in the facility, according to the fact sheet.

Benteler describes the 15-passenger Holon Mover as an all-electric, self-driving vehicle that is “one of the world’s first movers built to automotive standards.” The Mover’s first pilot project was with Hamburg, Germany’s Hochbahn, the company’s second-largest mass transit company.

In the U.S., Benteler is working with mobility provider Beep to roll out its vehicles. 

On Feb. 20, representatives of Beep, Florida State College at Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority celebrated the launch of the campus shuttle service, becoming the first campus in Florida to have autonomous shuttles in use.

The vehicles move people along a milelong route on the FSCJ Downtown Campus.

The term “holon,” pronounced hollen, is a Greek word for “something that is both a whole and a part of a whole.”



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