Virginia Rejected Support of Terry McAuliffe’s Small Electric Car
A freedom of information request by the Associated Press has revealed that Terry McAuliffe’s home state of Virginia had serious doubts about GreenTech Automotive and its quest to build affordable plug-in vehicles in the United States. In an email, Virginia Economic Development Partnership managing director Mike Lehmkuhler told a gubernatorial aide: “This company is a complete start-up venture and it appears the management team has no previous experience in automotive manufacturing.”
Lehmkuhler recommended that Virginia pass on helping to fund the project, noting, “We still do not see a unique value proposition that explains how GreenTech will reach forecasted sales.”
GreenTech announced its “MyCar” electric vehicle in 2010, after buying the rights to a neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV) originally designed by an Italian company back in 2003. McAuliffe and partner Charles Wang endeavored to build the car out of the ashes of Wang’s failed enterprise with Chinese auto magnate Yang Rong—which according to court documents ended in the two former partners accusing one another of fraud.
Financing for GreenTech, as with Wang’s previous business, was expected to come from government incentives and tax breaks, along with the EB-5 immigrant investor program, which allows foreign nationals to gain citizenship through investment in American businesses.
In 2009, the company filed for economic assistance from the state of Virginia, proposing a plan that would supposedly bring thousands of manufacturing jobs to the area. As revealed by AP, the state reacted with the same skepticism that PluginCars.com voiced in a post earlier this year: GreenTech doesn’t build road-ready, full-speed electric vehicles, and has failed to provide a cogent argument to support its sales volume predictions.
Long Shot for Small Car
What’s more, GreenTech has been reluctant to provide any sales or reservation numbers following the opening of its Horn Lake, Miss., manufacturing facility this summer. The plant employs a total of 70 people (including managers and sales staff,) but absent a few photo opps and an agreement to provide 20 vehicles to local Domino's Pizza franchises, GreenTech has offered no evidence of how many cars it has produced to this point.
McAuliffe has been openly running for governor Virginia for some time now, calling into question what GreenTech plans to do if he wins the election. GreenTech’s political ties have proven all-important in gaining the company government support and attracting immigrant investors willing to stake $500,000 (and their chance at citizenship) on the success of the enterprise. Despite McAuliffe’s extensive ties to private equity, GreenTech has offered no indication that they’ve been successful in raising private capital to support the venture—or that the company could somehow defy the economic fundamentals of a limited market for neighborhood electric vehicles.
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