CONNERSVILLE, Ind. (AP) -- A startup company with plans to build high-tech police cars in eastern Indiana says it's confident despite new competition from established automakers.
Carbon Motors Corp. says it has raised $100 million from private investors in recent months toward its project to develop the car, which it hopes to have on the market in 2012. The company also is awaiting a decision on its August application for a $310 million federal loan to help finance engineering, model-building and crash-testing.
"We're working away feverishly," Carbon Motors chief executive William Santana Li told The Indianapolis Star. "We have a winning plan."
Company officials announced in July they had picked a former Visteon plant in Connersville as the site of a factory that they said could potentially have 1,550 workers. The Visteon plant was shut down in 2007 and has been a prominent symbol of the economic struggles in the Connersville area, which had a 13.4 percent unemployment rate in October.
Carbon Motors has developed a prototype of its Carbon E7 squad car, which it says is the first vehicle specifically designed for police use. It includes bulletproof door and dash panels, radiation and biological threat detectors, and a 3-liter diesel engine the company says can reduce fuel costs by up to 40 percent.
General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC also are working on plans for new police cars that would succeed the Ford Crown Victoria Interceptor, which is being revamped after years as the nation's top-selling squad car.
Carbon Motors says it still believes its plan gives it an advantage over retooled passenger cars offered by other companies.
"We're not a consumer, retail automaker," Li said. "We've started with a clean sheet of paper to make a purpose-built solution from the ground up, made in America."
Hopes remain high for Carbon Motors in the city about 50 miles east of Indianapolis, said Bryan Coats, director of the Fayette County Economic Development Group.
"It's very exciting," Coats said. "We're working hard. It's coming together a little at a time."