McAuliffe gone, GreenTech works to fulfill loan terms

GreenTech Automotive has until the end of 2014 to create a minimum of 350 jobs at its Tunica facility, per the terms of a $3-million loan the Mississippi Development Authority made the company.

The loan, made in September 2011, is to help the hybrid car company with site preparation and what an MDA spokesperson called “other project-related expenses” in Tunica, which the company hopes will be home to its second manufacturing facility in Mississippi.

GreenTech started building the MyCar, a small electric vehicle, in Horn Lake last summer.

MDA spokesperson Sally Williams said in an email to the Mississippi Business Journal that loan repayments would begin after production in Tunica has started. Payments would be made twice annually in June and December, with the loan repayment period capped at 10 years. The MDA also loaned Tunica County $2 million to buy the facility, with the same company requirements attached to it.

GreenTech-MyCar_red_rgbWhat the company will build in Tunica is still unknown. A fall 2009 unveiling at the site featured several models, including a sedan and a sports car, but the company has since kept under wraps what it will make there.

Initial job figures the company announced exceeded 1,000, with original plans calling for the Tunica facility to produce more vehicles annually than the Nissan plant in Canton. Those metrics have since been reduced.

GreenTech has become an issue outside Mississippi. Former company chairman Terry McAuliffe, who resigned in early April, is running for governor in that state. Opponents of McAuliffe, whose time in the 1990s as chairman of the national Democratic party was marked by record fundraising, have spent the past several weeks bringing into question GreenTech’s validity and McAuliffe’s role in securing public assistance for the project after he said he would not do so.

Williams said the company remains in good standing with the state.

“To date, the company has done everything they had said they would,” she said.

GreenTech’s MyCar facility, housed in the old Dover Elevator building in Horn Lake, has produced the MyCar since a launch party last summer that included McAuliffe, former Gov. Haley Barbour and former President Bill Clinton.

Company spokesperson Marianne McInerney said this week that she couldn’t share specific production figures, but put the number in the hundreds. McAuliffe told Bloomberg right before production started that GreenTech hoped to build 10,000 MyCars in the first year of production. The vehicles that have made it off the assembly line have been sold in the Middle East, the European Union and in the United Kingdom, McInerney said.

Greentech has also produced vehicles for what McInerney called “targeted customers” in the U.S. Among the biggest is individual Domino’s Pizza franchises. The agreement with the pizza restaurants were a central theme to the Barbour-Clinton-McAuliffe launch ceremony.

“We have had a strong national and international response from Domino’s owners and (Tuesday) took on another three orders for the MyCar 13 to be placed in the US,” McInerney said. “These vehicles are largely customized for market delivery needs. We love the innovation of the Domino’s global family and the relationship we have with them.”

McInerney said GreenTech will in a few weeks begin making the MyCar 13, which will build on the MyCar 12 with more safety features and other amenities. They include an improved ride, handling and performance, she said.

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