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Police get a glimpse at new high-tech patrol car
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CHATEAU ELAN — Local police departments got a sneak peek at a new, high-tech law enforcement vehicle set to hit the streets in 2012 at a showcase held last Wednesday at Chateau Elan Resort and Winery.

The Carbon E7, a sleek, black-and-white car espousing the creed "To protect and to serve," on its exterior, was designed and built by Carbon Motors Corp. The company also is considering Braselton, and locations in four other states, for relocating its headquarters, meaning the car could be built in Georgia.

Founded in 2003, the Atlanta-based corporation calls itself a Homeland Security company focused on "provid(ing) first responders with a world-class, high-performance, cost-effective law enforcement vehicle," according to its Web site.

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, the E7 seems the perfect choice for a futuristic action movie.

But a Hollywood screenwriter can’t take credit for the creation. Instead, William Santana Li, Carbon Motors’ founder and CEO, helped design and build the car to protect "the 800,000 women and men in uniform, patrolling our communities."

"It’s the world’s first purpose-built law enforcement vehicle from the ground up, bumper to bumper," he said.

The car’s interior boasts a 15-inch touch screen that allows the driver to control everything in the vehicle, the back seat has video and audio surveillance and there are even heated and cooled cup holders.

In addition, the E7 has a 250,000-mile life expectancy, which is more than twice what a retail passenger car lasts, said Li.

It has taken six years for Carbon Motors to build the multi-million dollar prototype, and the corporation worked with more than 800 law enforcement agencies and 2,800 law enforcement professionals nationwide to determine what to include in the vehicle.

"There’s about 100-plus criteria that they asked us to meet," said Li.

The E7 won’t hit the market until 2012, but law enforcement agencies can reserve a car on Carbon Motors’ Web site; Li said almost 10,000 cars have already been pre-ordered.

Pricing for the car will be announced at the end of 2009, and while the demonstration vehicle cost several million dollars to build, Li said the market price will be much lower.

Carbon Motors is now looking at locations in five states to base its headquarters, and Braselton is among those being considered, according to Li.

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," said Li. "We can build a LEED certified ultra-green headquarters, research and development center, light industrial production center, showroom, call center, service training (and) sales."

Wherever the corporation relocates, Li said it will bring 10,000 new jobs to the area over a 10-year period.

"This (the Carbon E7) fits squarely with the nation’s agenda," he said. "We’re focused on Homeland Security and supporting our first responders, we’re focused on creating 10,000 direct and indirect American jobs, and we’re focused on the energy crisis and doing our part. This is the perfect time for Carbon Motors."