Whatever became of the cool cop car?

March 11, 2011
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One of the most interesting startup companies in the state, Carbon Motors, is moving ahead while it waits—and waits—for news on a $310 million federal loan it applied for a couple of years ago.

More than one Hoosier cocked their heads like a dog when the Atlanta company announced in May 2009 it would move to the decaying auto-parts town of Connersville in eastern Indiana and eventually manufacture a newfangled police car out of carbon fiber and outfitting it with sensors for weapons of mass destruction and other futuristic technology. The cars were to roll out of a sprawling former Visteon plant following a $350 million refurbishment.

Carbon Motors execs hoped for an answer about the loan last summer. But marketing chief Stacy Dean Stephens e-mails, “We've said from the beginning that we will not attempt to predict government behavior/timing, and we will stick to that. What we can tell you is that the loan is still VERY active and we continue to work closely with the federal authorities on a daily basis to see that it is approved as quickly as possible [where we are concerned].”

Stephens goes on to say nearly 200 people, a couple dozen them in Connersville, are employed and that the company has received 16,100 reservations from 500 agencies across the country.

“We have, for the most part, stopped giving interviews for the time being because the delay only seems to inflame those unfamiliar with federal government's processes,” he adds.

You have to wonder if Maalox budgets are rising at Carbon Motors and even across Connersville. When Carbon Motors started eight years ago, the Detroit automakers were stumbling, and when the headquarters relocation was announced, they were on death beds.

Now they’re making comebacks, and it’s hard to believe they will give up entrenched markets without a fight. So the sooner Carbon Motors can ramp up an assembly line, the better.

For now, though, all the company can do is innovate and prepare. And wait.

What are your thoughts? What are Carbon Motors’ prospects?

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  • I Wonder
    They keep talking about all these orders they already have, I really wonder who they are to, and I wonder, as agencies struggle for funds to replace aging vehicles, how they will afford a vehicle that Carbon says will cost upwards of $60,000 a piece, when current pursuit vehicles are currently priced in the mid $20's.
  • Carbon a hoax?
    There has been something fishy about the Carbon Motors deal from the beginning. I doubt if they ever will get government funding because there is no unmet need for their product.
  • Of course it's a scam
    Those order ar meaningless with zero deposit, zero commitment. It is shameful to even think about using our tax dollars for this. If it is a viable business proposition, where are the banks? Where are the VCs? The answer is obvious. The entire industry in the US is 70,000 units. Even if the waltz in and get 30% of that it's 20,000 unit. No car company can make a business case around that kind of volume. SCAM
  • Curious
    "the company has received 16,100 reservations"

    If those 'reservations' were actual orders it would represent $1.2 BILLION in revenue. If true, what commercial bank and/or venture capitalist wouldn't jump on this? The hoped for federal money is just 25% of the 'projected' income.

    Curious...
  • Atlanta?????
    I thought several years ago it was cast in concrete that C/M was going to be Atlanta based. THEN, they're coming to Connersville. WHY?? It has never been explained to Connersville why they moved. Are they too naive to ask?? What's up?
  • Conman Motors
    I heard a presentation from Carbon Motors a couple of months ago that was so filled with either naivete or baloney that it made me sad for the the people of Connersville. The city has sunk millions of dollars into a plan that never made sense.
  • another one....
    ...of these govt. sponsored capitalist tool con games...nice work on the business 'development' front their Guv Daniels, those jobs are just rushing in ain't they...looks like another 'socialist' plot to me! :)
  • Aside from the upfront cost . . .
    how and where would you get the car serviced? Take it to Connersville?
  • SCAM
    It is a scam, pure, plain and simple, SCAM! There is nobody employed in Connersville, let alone 200 employees total, and they have emptied out the plant of what tiny bit of stuff they put in there. SCAM!
  • Who Takes Reservations
    The loan was denied, and even if it was not, anyone familiar with the goverment procurement process know that governments do not make reservations. For any acquisitions they would have to go through an RFP process, which would be public information. Like Nixon's secret plan to end the war in Vietnam, the "reservations" for these vehicles are non existent.
  • Govt motors2?
    It's kinda weird reading their website. They say they are a homeland security company and the slant is definitely meant to appeal to left leaning people. The whole green thing. Even the name makes one think maybe a future angle might be to incorporate carbon credits somehow.
  • PARTS
    how can they be competitive on parts unless they join up with another car makers dealer network or are they going to set up there own parts network BMW USA will NOT sell you engine parts WITHOUT knowing the part #
  • Carbon Motors
    The US just spent how much on bailing out GM? Do you think they are going to fund this new company to compete against them? I think not. It is obvious that he whole reason they moved to Connorsville was to strengthen the possibility that they would receive the govt funding. "Hey US Govt LOOK, we are starting a new company and need your support to create job. We will revive this run down once prosperous town in the process WITH YOUR HELP.
  • Carbon Crack
    The only people making money in this deal are Stacey Dean Stephens and William Santana Lee. Their brainchild, however neat it may have been conceptually - has never had legitimate wings and never will. They have been paid VERY well for 8+ years to never create/produce/sell anything. They wore out their welcome in Atlanta...or used up all the money.

    Banks or Venture Capitalists are there IF the idea has merit and the business plan shows potential. The gov't should NOT give them a cent...not a penny.

    Tell them to Get REAL Jobs and actually do something other than consume from others.
  • Who will buy this car?
    Forget about loans, plants, employees and such. Who in their right mind is going to buy a patrol vehicle with a 60k price tag? With bastard BMW/? Drivetrain. Police administrators and fleet managers are in a crash crunch, they cannot even replace their old fleet of CV's with 200+ miles on the odometer. Can you imagine going to your city manager and commission with this idea? LOL! Not even the chief from Beverly Hills PD is that stupid! Let's face it guys, this has been a pipe dream from the start. Someday you will run into the E7 prototype in some police museum and you will get kick
    out of it.
  • Not a Scam and a good price
    Well, I am working on the program, but I wont get into detail as most information is proprietary. It is real and continuing to grow and evolve. Many are talking about a price tag or a crown vic which is mid 20's,, THEN add the police package and it becomes comparable in price,, not to mention the BMW diesel saving 40% in fuel costs. Nuf said
  • Oh Yeah
    Oh yeah, forgot to add, the life expectancy is double so times that number by two and add
    Prisoner partitions.
    Emergency lighting system and siren.
    Radio communications equipment.
    Rear plastics prisoner transportation seats using factory installed safety belts.
    Radar and in-car video systems PLUS CUSTOM INSTALLATION as the Carbon comes all ready to roll
    • Oh Yeah
      That's great. Where's the drivetrain made, for instance? I'm a Colorado police dept. with a fleet of E7's. Who repairs them ?
      Anyone that's ever owned a Beemer will tell you a waterpump will set you back $800. Compare that to a Ford repair.
    • Question
      I have been in law enforcement 22 yrs. and like alot of things about the car. However, have questions about the BMW motor going from cold start to a high speed run. We have a diesel and am not impressed with having the glow plug light up till you can go. Hope they took this into account. We have Fords now and alot of cops I talked to are either going to the Chargers or Taurus. Did Carbon Motors ever get that loan they were looking for to start up production? What year are they looking at for the first one to come off the line?
    • desperation
      Connersville prcically gave them the property. The town had to welcome carbon motors only game in town. Are these guys the job creators republicans talk about? This is one of the phantom businesses that gov. mitch brags about.
      • Solar panel firm
        Was reading about the solar panel people in California going belly up. I would think that does not help the situation for these folks. Also, the spokesperson for BMW seems pretty insistent about carbon backing up their promise to purchase that amount of engines they agreed to. I hope the best for this group and the town, but it does not sound good.
      • Press Release indicates improvements to commence
        A Carbon Motors press release indicates building improvements are to get underway. Project details, timing, and source of funding are not indicated, although the construction company and architect are named, which is not exactly new news.
      • Tucker..
        Reminds me of Tucker...but I have more respect for Tucker.
        • Funding
          Here is my question. Why do they need the 310 mil from the Dept of Energy, when they can just take their 12,000 orders to any bank and receive their funding. If they are sellng their E7s for 50k that equates to almost 600 million retail, where is the problem here??? What am I missing?
        • Brookville252
          Hey Fred: so you must be one of the Carbon Motors people?
          The whole thing was a SCAM from the "get-go".
          The units are too expensive.
          And they are basically "kit cars": "kit cars" have never been successful; just a "nightmare" for their owners.
        • Carbon Motors scam
          Carbon Motors was in our town but never got off the ground. They scammed our city for millions and picked up and left. They now have a new vehicle and are doing the same thing to a town in California. Our city received riverboat funds and Carbon used those. Look at Sanatana Li's Linkedin and you will see the scam. Head of over 5 companies and none ever produced a vehicle. 7 years as Carbon Motors and not one car came off the assembly line. There was no assembly line nor were there employees with exception of one from out town. Our city wants to wqarn other cities of this scam artist.
        • scammers
          If you don't have the cash to invest,stay away from Connersville. We don't want your business.

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