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Police car maker looking at Braselton as possible plant site
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Braselton has emerged as one of the finalists for an automotive assembly plant for specialized police cars.

Carbon Motors has announced that Braselton is among seven cities in five states that have been asked to submit formal proposals for the plant, which is estimated to have an economic impact of $3 billion over 10 years.

A prototype car, the Carbon E7, is a sleek, black-and-white car equipped with impressive gadgets including voice control, night-vision cameras, radiation-detecting air ducts, an automatic license plate recognition system and the capability to reach a top speed of 155 miles per hour.

William Santana Li, chairman and chief executive officer of Carbon Motors Corp., brought the vehicle to Chateau Elan last month and said at the time that Braselton was under consideration.

It joins one other Georgia community, Pooler, where a massive site was graded for a proposed plant to build vans for Daimler, the German automaker. The plant near Savannah, which was announced in 2002 by former Gov. Roy Barnes, never materialized.

Other finalist sites announced by the company are Connersville, Ind., Plymouth, Mich., Charlotte, N.C., and Greenville and Spartanburg, S.C.

“We are keeping our commitment to share transparently with the public our discussions regarding the site location for Carbon Motors as we work to foster the public-private sector collaboration needed to provide our first responders the equipment they so sorely need,” said Li in a statement on the company’s Web site.

Carbon Motors, according to the statement, will invest more than $350 million into developing and producing the Carbon E7, which is slated for start of production in 2012. The car will be powered by a biodiesel capable engine that uses clean diesel technology.

Numerous factors, including easy access to key automotive suppliers, Braselton’s proximity to Atlanta and support from the community and local political leaders played a part in naming the town a candidate.

“The actual site is picturesque and just beautiful,” Li said during his visit to Braselton. “We can build a LEED certified ultra-green headquarters, research and development center, light industrial production center, showroom, call center, service training (and) sales.”
Tim Evans, vice president for economic development for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, said he is in regular contact with the company.

“We are excited to be considered and to be one of the finalists,” Evans said. “It’s a great project and jobs and investment are foremost in our minds right now.”

The prospective site is in South Hall County.

Li has been complimentary of other communities on the list, including Charlotte, according to published reports there. He has maintained a blog on the company’s Web site that lists the pros and cons of each community he has visited.

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