Automaker eyes area for plant

 

A niche automaker is considering land in an Aiken County industrial park to construct a manufacturing facility for its line of police cars.

Executives with Atlanta-based Carbon Motors Corp. will be in Graniteville today to show political, law enforcement and economic development leaders the Carbon E7, a diesel-powered car designed for law enforcement.

The manufacturing campus could cost more than $100 million and create more than 500 jobs, said Fred Humes, the director of the Economic Development Partnership of Aiken and Edgefield counties.

Carbon Motors has five states on its finalists list. South Carolina is the only state with more than one potential site, said company spokesman Stacy Dean Stephens. He confirmed that Graniteville is one. The other is Greenville.

Other areas in the running are Charlotte, N.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Plymouth, Mich.; and Connersville, Ind., the company said. Mr. Stephens said the company will announce its choice within the next three months.

"I think we've got a good site there at Sage Mill," Mr. Humes said. "Having Bridgestone would be a plus for us."

Mr. Humes said the company likes several aspects of the industrial park: It is a certified site, so there are no environmental hurdles, and it has water and sewers.

"I think they like the reputation of our work force," Mr. Humes said. "The training program at the state and Aiken Technical College has also been mentioned as a plus."

He said an incentives package hasn't been discussed.

The company unveiled its E7 police cruiser at a national convention of police chiefs in San Diego in November.

"It's really a homeland security machine, not a cop car," William Li, CEO of Carbon Motors, said in a statement.

The vehicle will have radiation-, chemical- and biological-threat detection, bulletproof door panels, an automatic license-plate-recognition system, vehicle life of 250,000 miles and fuel efficiency 40 percent better than police cruisers, the company says. Carbon Motors officials say its operations would create 10,000 direct and indirect jobs over the course of a decade.

Reach Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or timothy.rausch@augustachronicle.com.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Officials with Carbon Motors Corp., of Atlanta, will decide among its final list of potential manufacturing sites reportedly by the end of July. Carbon Motors says the economic impact of its industrial campus will be 10,000 direct and indirect jobs.