Electric vehicles to be made in Hawaii - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Electric vehicles to be made in Hawaii

Electric vehicles Electric vehicles
Governor Linda Lingle Governor Linda Lingle
Sketch of proposed car factory Sketch of proposed car factory
Young Gi Lee, center in black jacket Young Gi Lee, center in black jacket
Joe White Joe White

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

Hawaii isn't producing much pineapple or sugar anymore but it could start making electric cars within the next two years.  The governor and the car company CT&T (Creative Transportation & Technology) are working out the final details to bring a car assembly plant to Oahu.  The company says it's making a $200 million dollar investment.  It could also bring in millions more to the local economy.

They are not golf carts on steroids, according to the Chief Operating Officer of CT&T in reference to his vehicles.  The South Korean company just signed a memorandum of understanding with the State of Hawaii to build electric vehicles here on Oahu.

"This is not your father's car factory," said Governor Linda Lingle while looking at a sketch of the architect's design of the plant.

The company also wants to set up education center for children at the facility.

"This doesn't look like a plant, it looks like a beautiful museum," said Young Gi Lee, CT&T Chief Executive Officer.

The company has narrowed its potential sites to four confidential locations on Oahu.  It's revving up its plans and hopes to be built and operating within the next two years.  When it's fully operational the facility expects to produce 10,000 2-seater electric vehicles a year and employ 400 people.

"In addition to the jobs we provide there may be as many as a 1,000 jobs from the ripple effect of our factory being built here," said Joe White, CT&T USA Chief Operating Officer.

The cars will cost between $8,000 and $20,000 to buy, but only $7 a month to operate.  They have a top speed of 25 miles per hour and a range of 80 miles per charge.  The company also plans to import assembled cars for sale in the next six months.

So why all this in Hawaii?

"The islands themselves portray themselves to be perfect for our types of vehicles.  We're in the city drive mid speed, low speed neighborhood electric vehicles so the speed limit here 25-35 fits perfectly with our type of vehicle," said White.

"It seems like such a farfetched idea that we would actually make cars here in Hawaii but he is convinced that this is possible.  (Young Gi Lee) has set up these factories in South Carolina, Georgia, he's doing it in California so it could really put us on the map in a really big way," said Governor Linda Lingle.

You can expect a lot of electric cars.  Earlier this week Nissan announced it would launch its new electric vehicle here in Hawaii.  Those cars will be here early next year.

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