LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Hyperloop One, a company that made a splash two years ago in Southern Nevada with a demonstration of futuristic transportation technology, has shifted its focus to moving freight.
It’s a new direction, and not the company’s only change in recent months.
Hyperloop One filed a notice with the state on Thursday that it is laying off six employees at its Moapa operations just northeast of Las Vegas. It’s the second layoff this year at the site.
In November 2020, Hyperloop One put two employees in a full-scale vacuum tube and sent them on a 1/3-mile run that reached 107 mph. Company officials told the New York Times it was the “first new form of mass transportation in over 100 years,” according to an article published in September. Now, the executive who said that is gone.
Over the two years since the demonstration, the company became Virgin Hyperloop as expectations grew that people would travel in capsules through a network of tubes.
On July 11, 2021, Virgin founder Richard Branson went to outer space.
In January 2022, Virgin Hyperloop fired 100 people, according to the Times — Nevada’s employment website shows 26 people were laid off here. The total number of people working in Nevada has not been disclosed. The company — now Hyperloop One again — is based in Los Angeles.
Virgin has now been stripped from the company’s name, and the website is going through changes: “It’s a new day at Hyperloop One. Our new website is coming soon.”
The test facility remains, and the new focus on freight comes as a threatened strike puts railroads on everyone’s mind. If the technology isn’t right for passenger transport, there’s certainly an opportunity for a more industrial venture. Trucking and shipping goods became a major problem during the pandemic as people left jobs and fuel prices steadily increased — and then skyrocketed when Russia invaded Ukraine.
The site of the Hyperloop One Test and Safety Site, just off U.S. 93 in the Apex industrial park, was previously the site of Faraday Future, an electric car maker that pulled out after reaching a deal that included $335 million in incentives from the state to locate here.