GreenTech Automotive Inc., a startup maker of battery-powered vehicles led by former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, said Domino’s Pizza Inc. (DPZ) is the first U.S. customer for its low-speed cars.
GreenTech initially expects at least 20 Domino’s franchise owners to place orders for its MyCar, McAuliffe said in a phone interview, ahead of today’s opening of its factory in Horn Lake, Mississippi. The orders would follow an agreement with Greenabout A/S, a Danish distributor of electric cars, for “thousands” of the two-passenger vehicles, McAuliffe said.
“We’ve got to get 10,000 built over the next year,” he said, declining to detail how much closely held GreenTech raised to fund the plant and a second factory that opens next year in Tunica, Mississippi. “If we can get up to 10,000 the first year, that’s a big deal.”
McAuliffe’s move into the nascent market for rechargeable cars follows his role as chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid. He was also a fundraiser for former President Bill Clinton, who’s attending the factory opening in Horn Lake. Unlike startups Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) and Fisker Automotive Inc., which got low-interest federal loans for their operations, GreenTech says it’s only using private funds.
The McLean, Virginia-based carmaker has no debt and didn’t apply for or receive federal funds, McAuliffe said. The company received incentives from the state of Mississippi that were worth at least $10 million, he said.
MyCar, about the size of Daimler AG (DAI)’s Smart Fortwo minivehicle, sells for $15,000 to $20,000, and goes as far as 115 miles (185 kilometers) per charge. The car is a ‘neighborhood electric vehicle’ for urban commuters, which means it can’t be used on highways. It has a top speed set for 25 miles per hour in the U.S. and for 45 mph in Europe.
The vehicle costs half as much as Nissan Motor Co. (7201)’s Leaf hatchback, the top-selling battery car that starts at $35,200, and is cheaper than Mitsubishi Motors Corp. (7211)’s i-MiEV electric car that, at a $29,975 base price, is currently the cheapest battery-powered car in the U.S.
Tesla and Fisker, focused on luxury buyers, sell top-of-the line rechargeable cars costing more than $100,000.
Under the terms of GreenTech’s order with Greenabout, the Danish company will purchase a “sizeable percentage” of MyCar’s production through 2014, GreenTech said in September, without giving details.
Along with Clinton, former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is to attend the opening of the Horn Lake factory plant. The factory will employ 426 workers, which will take its total staff to 845. The company plans to employ as many as 1,500 workers by the end of next year, when the Tunica plant opens, McAuliffe said.
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