When a group of American investors bought a Chinese auto company making electric vehicles and decided to move the plant to the U.S., the competition was intense for the location.
Workers at GreenTech Automotive prepare to unveil the company’s all-electric MyCar at the company’s 376,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Horn Lake.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)
Haley Barbour, who was governor of Mississippi at the time, points out it was not as intense as the competition for the Toyota plant that the state had previously won.
“It’s a different competition from Nissan and Toyota because those immediately throw off thousands of jobs,” Barbour said last week at the GreenTech Automotive Plant in Horn Lake. “The competition is different, but it is competition. A number of states were trying to get this plant. We got it.”
GreenTech makes two-seat electric vehicles with a limited range. They are what company chairman Terry McAuliffe calls “neighborhood kind of vehicles – little runaround cars” that will sell for around $18,000.
In the audience last week in Horn Lake for the formal opening of the GreenTech plant was Neely Mallory III, president of The Mallory Group of Memphis, which includes Mallory Alexander International Logistics.
“We’ve had several of the prototype cars in our warehouses for years,” he said. “It’s sort of changed design. Now it’s totally electric. We had hybrids originally. It’s exciting.”
The economic impact will go beyond the plant in Horn Lake and the one under construction farther south in Tunica County. Mallory Alexander is working on the movement of the cars to the market in Denmark as well as getting parts for the assembly line to North Mississippi.
“We’ve been involved with helping them import some of the goods coming in,” Mallory said. “Sixty percent of the parts are being sourced domestically. … We’re also involved with them. We are trying to assist them to get the cars to Denmark.”
The Domino’s pizza chain has signed an agreement with GreenTech to use the cars for its pizza deliveries with one of the first starting to make deliveries this fall on the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford.
The car’s brand name is “MyCar” and one of the first two MyCars to roll off the ceremonial assembly line in Horn Lake last week was outfitted with Domino’s logos and that was the one former President Bill Clinton took the passenger seat of for the ceremony.
As Arkansas governor, Clinton said he remembers the intense competition among states in the 1980s for conventional auto plants including the Saturn plant that went to Spring Hill in Middle Tennessee.
“All they got was what any manufacturer would get,” Clinton said of the GreenTech relocation as he spoke to the crowd of 300 assembled in the plant that until just recently was filled with cotton and before that was the Dover Elevator Co. plant. “Every state should be paying attention to this.”
Barbour confirmed and re-emphasized the point later.
“The incentives here are all tax incentives, which goes to show you low taxes matter,” he said. “We didn’t go to the legislature for money.”
McAuliffe emphasizes GreenTech was an existing auto manufacturer with a manufacturing base in Hong Kong before he and others bought it and moved it to North Mississippi.
The plant is the base for a company that began as EuAuto in 2010 in Hong Kong.
“It was Chinese. It’s now American-made and shame on the United States of America if we continue to allow our jobs and our technology to go off shore,” said McAuliffe displaying some of the skills that made him Democratic National Committee chairman.
“This should be a signal – a clarion call to every business. You can build it here in America. You don’t have to ship it overseas. And a call to every foreign country or company, if you come here and steal our technology, we’re going to come and get you and bring it back here.”