Estonian self-driving delivery manufacturer Clevon announced Sept. 22 it is headquartering its U.S. operations in Fort Worth at Alliance Airport.
The company plans to manufacture vehicles that do not have a driver and can deliver parcels in neighborhoods.
Clevon CEO Sander Sebastian Agur estimates the autonomous delivery industry will grow by $57 billion in the next six years as the demand for same-day delivery and the need to resolve worker shortages rise, he said.
“We are here to offer a solution to provide sustainable green, zero occupant, energy efficient autonomous vehicles to battle those challenges,” Agur said.
Clevon (NASDAQ: CLEV) officials, along with Estonia’s president, unveiled the company’s newest vehicle, Clevon 1, at the airport during the ceremony.
Agur cited Texas’ welcoming approach to business for opening its headquarters in Fort Worth.
The company plans to mass manufacture the vehicles by 2024, Agur said. Manufacturing would start at a factory in Estonia, Meelis Anton, the company’s chief operating officer said.
As the company tests and expands in the U.S., it makes sense to expand manufacturing in the states down the line, he said. He doesn’t have an estimate of how many jobs the company could create in Fort Worth, but it would start with hiring people to help set up systems, customer agreements and business development.
“We have taken the approach that we are building as we grow,” Anton said. “So we really make the pipeline, then start building. It’s just common and financial sense to do it that way.”
The startup is using funds from its initial public offering when it went public in Europe to get started, Anton said. The company plans to test the vehicles in neighborhoods across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, he said.
Estonia is a major European hub for technology. Skype, mobility business Bolt and financial tech company Wise were invented in Estonia. In a speech, the country’s president, Alar Karis said while Estonia is a small country of about 1.3 million, technology is making it bigger.
“Without a doubt, the startup and digital sector has been among the fastest growing areas of the Estonian economy,” Karis said. “And I believe that it is now time to bring innovation that was born in the digital sector to the rest of the economy and the rest of the world.”
Ross Perot Jr. said Fort Worth can learn from Estonia, which has 99% of its public services accessible online.
“If you look at how we run our government, with today’s technology, there’s much easier ways to run government services, and Estonia is pioneering that way,” Perot Jr. said.
There’s 63,000 people who work at Alliance every day, Perot Jr. said. North Texas and Alliance’s Mobility Innovation Zone is a hub for autonomous vehicles. Perot cited North Texas’ growth as a factor as to why startups like Clevon would want to establish in a place such as Alliance.
“They need us for our market,” Perot Jr. said, “because this is the big market.”
Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.