Don't Overlook EV Startups and Shops

Zoox Assembly Line
Credit: Zoox


Small-scale automakers are nothing new. The supercar market is filled with dozens of companies building low-batch vehicles to sell to the ultra-rich. The transition to electric vehicles has brought in a new batch of companies that produce more than just wedge-shaped vehicles that throw you back into your seat when you slam the accelerator.

These small-scale businesses are changing the definition of the term, automaker. From startups fueled by huge investments working towards automation to building vehicles for local fleet work, electrification lowers the barrier to building vehicles for many companies. 

One of those companies is Harbinger Motors. Based out of Southern California, the company is building electric vehicles for commercial use. Instead of trying to be part of the EV hype machine, Harbinger took a position early on to work in stealth mode until it had vehicles on the road. It made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show in September 2022. 

Now it's getting ready to deliver vehicles to customers in the first quarter of 2024. A nice jump in two years from an outside perspective. The company has designed its chassis, motor, suspension, battery system, and essentially the whole widget. The entire setup works together seamlessly because it was all developed as a unit. 

CEO John Harris noted that the company is small compared to the big OEMs out there. Instead of thousands of employees, it'll employ hundreds, and it expects a great deal from those people. "We expect people to do a lot of decision-making and work autonomously. We expect to give them fairly high-level tasking and then exercise a lot of discretion to do problem-solving to figure out what to do."  

Companies like Harbinger are popping up around the country. Whether they're building EVs for niche markets, a small part of a larger global conglomerate investigating electrification, or shops taking old vehicles and outfitting them with electric motors, these companies need employees who might be looking for something a bit different than a job at the line of a large automaker. 

On the other side of the small manufacturing spectrum is Zoox. Acquired by Amazon in the summer of 2022, the robotaxi company is not only developing the software needed to transport people autonomously to their destinations, it's building the vehicles those customers will ride in. 

At its facility in Fremont, California, the company is building and testing a robotaxi of its own design. It includes an impressive carbon fiber cabin that adds a level of safety to the vehicles on par with what we've seen from companies like McLaren and BMW. 

While designed by Zoox, items are built by third-party suppliers and assembled by the Zoox team. It's a modular approach that reduces the need for an in-house body shop, stamping, or painting area. 

This is in addition to outfitting a testing fleet of Toyota Highlanders with sensors. 

For those looking to the past, companies like Kindred Motorworks in Northern California and Zelectric in Southern California both take iconic vehicles and replace the gas engines with EV powertrains. Shops like these vary in size but are a growing part of automotive culture. 

Car enthusiasts are looking for something new and different and making an old car more reliable and quicker with an electric motor is a growing segment. For those with an attachment to legacy vehicles, these types of garages could be a nice balance of a desire for a more sustainable future while paying homage to vehicles of the past. 

These are just a few of the EV companies with small runs that will need employees as they scale up. Careers in the sustainability world are popping up in the most unexpected places. If your path to a greener future is with a smaller company, they're out there looking. Just be ready when you get called in for an interview.

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