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April 16th, 2010

It’s been about 10 months now since I blogged about the V-Vehicle Company and their plans to turn an abandoned headlight factory in Louisiana into a manufacturing facility for a new, compact, efficient, inexpensive, American-made vehicle.  At the time, they planned to start production of their mystery-vehicle in about 17 months.  That’s 7 months from now.

Since then, they’ve failed to secure a DOE loan, and recently announced a change in command (as reported by earth2tech).  And still, there’s no sign of anything actually being produced by this “company” anytime soon.  They’ve got a lot to do in 7 months…

Lately, there’s been chatter about another company with plans to bring prosperity to the folks in the deep south.  HK Motors, a China-based car company with plans for compressed-natural-gas-fueled hybrid vehicles (with a small gasoline tank back-up – you know, in case you can’t find a CNG station anywhere), intends to build a manufacturing facility in Bay Minette, Alabama.  The manufacturing campus is projected to cost around $4.3B, with an annual output of 300,000 SUVs, passenger cars, and trucks by 2013, eventually employing 5,800 people to build a million cars annually by 2018.  …Wow, that’s about 10% of the U.S.’s current new car market…

Unlike VVC, HK actually has a website.  And some prototype vehicles.  And some sketches of a manufacturing facility.  But I have to look at the description of their technology with a critical eye.  It reads a little too much like an infomercial to be believable. And, cynically, the Chinese auto industry’s strength has not been in developing next-generation advanced vehicle technologies, as much as it has been in copying technology from other manufacturers and figuring out how to manufacture it more cheaply.  From my point of view, HK’s grand plans just seem a little too … grand.

We’ll have to wait and see if HK … or VVC … ever delivers anything besides vaporware.

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