Terry McAuliffe, chief of GreenTech Automotive in McLean, is in China this weekend, announcing a venture with Shengyang Zhongrui Investment. A plant in Inner Mongolia will have the capacity to build 300,000 cars per year with components made by GreenTech. McAuliffe was chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Many believe he is gearing up for another campaign for governor of Virginia.
Q: Describe the company and the business plan.
A: We are building electric and hybrid automobiles that are being sold around the world. The company’s motto is: “It’s not green unless it is affordably green.” We have one plant in operation now in Mississippi and another under construction in Tunica, Miss., an area with tremendously high unemployment. We will soon be announcing our third U.S. facility. In addition, we have just broken ground for a new joint venture in Ordos, China, to produce 300,000 cars per year at full capacity.
Q: Is the MyCar — the initial GreenTech car — on sale yet?
A: The American-made MyCar will roll off our assembly line in the fourth quarter of this year, and we have sold the first production run to Denmark.
Q: What will be the distribution strategy and through what network?
A: All of our cars will be sold through conventional dealership networks. We’re confident that with our affordable pricing and state-of-the-art green technology, our cars will sell themselves.
Q: What will the cars sell for and what percent profit margin do you plan on?
A: We have five vehicles and all will be sold at different price levels. We are committed to selling every vehicle, electric or hybrid, at the most affordable price available.
Q: What is the target market?
A: For our electric cars, we want to reach consumers who drive less than 100 miles per day and who no longer can afford or wish to pay exorbitant gas prices. For our hybrid vehicles, our target market is anyone who is looking for extended driving range and fantastic fuel efficiency.
Q: Why China?
A: China has the fastest growing automobile market in the world. Exporting our U.S.-made cars to China was not feasible due to the high import duties and high taxes. In order to meet market demands, our best and only option was to do a joint venture in China. This allows us to manufacture all of the core components in the U.S., creating several thousand new American jobs, for cars that will be sold exclusively in China.
And I’m proud to say that GreenTech bought an electric vehicle company in China and actually moved it to the United States.
Q: How expensive is the battery?
A: Lithium batteries are the most expensive components of electric vehicles. However, the technology gets better every day. The batteries continually get lighter, stronger and the cost gets cheaper.
Q: Will there be a combustion engine a la the Chevy Volt, or just all-electric a la Nissan?
A: We have two different technologies. A pure electric drivetrain and a hybrid powertrain with a combustion engine.
Q: Who’s going to manage this project?
A: The GreenTech team includes veteran automotive executives who have worked at [General Motors], Ford and Chrysler and who are excited about our products and the promise of green technologies.
Q: If you want to become governor of Virginia, why are you manufacturing in Mississippi?
A: At GreenTech, we’ve committed to build all of our manufacturing plants in economically depressed areas and where we have strong economic incentives to make sure the facilities are successful. Mississippi put together a great economic package that worked for our investors and for Mississippi. As a result, Mississippi will have 350 new green manufacturing taxpaying jobs and a head start in this new, exciting field.