HORN LAKE — An electric car maker plans another coming-out party today in north Mississippi.
GreenTech Automotive says it will unveil its MyCar electric vehicle line in Horn Lake. Some auto industry analysts have questioned whether the company will succeed.
MyCar is a two-seat neighborhood electric vehicle, a cross between a golf cart and conventional car, with a 115-mile range. The company has said it plans to sell a “sizeable percentage” of products to Denmark over several years. In the United States, such vehicles are allowed only on streets with speed limits of 35 mph and below. The vehicles are supposed to recharge from household electric outlets and sell for about $10,000.
The company says former President Bill Clinton and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour will attend today’s event. Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe is chairman of GreenTech, based in McLean, Va. The CEO is Chinese businessman Charles X. Wang.
GreenTech announced in 2009 it would build a massive factory in Tunica County, Miss., unveiling four models of full-sized electric cars at a Tunica casino. Those plans changed, though, after McAuliffe got involved and GreenTech acquired MyCar.
GreenTech had said it would start production in late 2011, but missed that deadline. The company said it still plans to build a 200,000- to 300,000-square-foot factory in Tunica County. It also says it plans to progress from neighborhood electric vehicles to full-sized cars. But for now, it’s leasing a former elevator factory in the Memphis suburbs of DeSoto County, Miss.
Sally Williams, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Development Authority, said that the state hasn’t provided any assistance to the Horn Lake operation. She said Mississippi is “committed” to providing infrastructure aid, tax breaks and a loan to Tunica County to buy land there. However, Williams said she had no estimate of the value of that projected assistance and said details haven’t been finalized because GreenTech “is still assessing its needs related to its Tunica County plant.”
GreenTech had said Thursday that Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant would attend Friday’s event, but withdrew that statement after the governor’s office told The Associated Press that Bryant wasn’t going.
The company has not responded to questions submitted June 26 by the AP, and a number of factors remain unclear. Originally, GreenTech said it would raise money from foreign investors through the EB-5 visa program, which allows investors to obtain residency in the United States in exchange for putting a certain amount of money into a business venture and creating a certain number of jobs.
It’s not clear whether GreenTech is still seeking foreign investors, or how much money it has put into the Horn Lake operation so far. On Thursday, an Escondido, Calif., firm called Flux Power said it would be providing lithium battery packs for GreenTech and had already delivered “several hundred.” Flux Power is led by Chris Anthony, who co-founded failed electric vehicle company Aptera and then left to start Epic Electric Vehicles, which is developing a three-wheeled electric roadster, an electric dune buggy and an electric boat.
The GreenTech project has encountered intense skepticism from some auto industry analysts, who say it’s unlikely that an untried player without very deep pockets will be able to break into the fledgling electric vehicle market.
GreenTech first came to public notice when Wang was engaged in a legal dispute with Yung “Benjamin” Yeung, a business associate. Yeung moved his separate venture, called Hybrid Kinetic motors, to a site north of Mobile, Ala. The American part of that venture largely fizzled after several years, Alabama officials have said.
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