The newest carmaker to set up shop in the state is South Korean manufacturer CT&T. They are joining with project management firm 2AM Group from Spartanburg to create low-priced, low-speed electric vehicles. Some of them are already sold in parts of the state and the company fashioned a model for the state Department of Public Safety’s Statehouse’s security detail.
State Public Safety Director Mark Keel says his department will have to adapt.
In the process of the days and weeks to come, we will learn how best to utilize this vehicle and its best use for us at the Bureau of Protective Services at the Department of Public Safety. So we’re excited about that because we know that there are uses for it. We have golf carts now and so now we’ve got something enclosed so that when the weather’s bad, we don’t have to get out of it and into something else.
CT&T will build and distribute eVehicles nationwide that are enclosed and drive more like cars, with car-like amenities. Artie Perry, President and CEO of 2AM Group:
We are working on a program that will also be able to add air conditions to these vehicles, possibly in the 2012 model year, maybe even sooner. That is when some of the affordability interests people and they’re going to start to recognize, “Wow, this is something I can live with.”
An eight-seat model demonstrated at the Statehouse is priced at $12,000 and the smaller vehicles are even less.
2AM Group in Spartanburg works with engineering, logistics and technical management for the automotive, aerospace and marine industries. This newest eVehicle venture will eventually produce 30-thousand cars a year. The company plans to develop larger vehicles for use on highways. For now, the cars only reach 35 mph, and Perry says with side-crash airbags, certain eZone cars can be safe if allowed on 45 mph roads. Department of Public Safety Director Mark Keel:
Our great concern that we have here in South Carolina is making sure that they’re safe for our roadways. Times are changing and we have to change with those times. We have to look into those things. NTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has requirements about what can be put on our roadways, so we need to make sure those things are addressed and if they are then we have to look at ways we can change.
Perry says the the goal of this company is to create zero emissions-vehicles for the world he expects that it will take time for these vehicles to be adopted — and adapted—to the needs of American drivers, starting with South Carolina as a testing ground. The facility in Spartanburg County is hiring now and will be fully operational by the fourth quarter of this year.
Gov. Mark Sanford says South Carolina will take the lead in attracting “companies from a conservation-based and evolving energy economy,
Whether it’s IMO in Dorchester County, Materials Innovation Technologies in Lake City, or Proterra in Spartanburg, South Carolina is emerging as a hub of new industries capitalizing on this larger theme of good stewardship of our environment.