Remember Hybrid-Kinetic Motors, the hugely ambitious venture by former Brilliance Chairman Yung Yeung that was supposed to build 300k physics-defying hybrids per year at a brand-new $1.5b Alabama factory (with the modest goal of producing a million vehicles per year by 2018)? H-K Motors was never taken very seriously here at TTAC, and despite appearing to be a visa scam, the firm signed a $500m design deal with Italdesign/Giugiaro, and was reportedly working with a German engineering firm… and Alabama’s Baldwin County sure took the firm seriously. Unfortunately, al.com reports that
In 2009, Chinese company HK Motors had taken notice of the megasite and announced plans to build a $4.36 billion green energy automobile manufacturing plant that would employ 4,000 workers.
Under a plan unveiled two years ago, the Pasadena, Calif.-based subsidiary of Hybrid Kinetic Group Ltd., of Hong Kong, would start production in Baldwin County in 2013. The cars built there would run mainly on compressed natural gas, backed up by electric batteries and a small gasoline tank.
The company announced that it expected to build 300,000 vehicles each year at the outset, with production increasing to 1 million by 2018 by 5,000 local employees. The company purchased a battery manufacturer and other component businesses in subsequent months.
But local officials said last month they would be marketing the site to other companies with HK Motors apparently unable to secure financing for the venture.
I’m sure nobody’s surprised by this at all… after all, I never found anyone who believed a word of the Hybrid Kinetic mumbo-jumbo. But what reminded me of the H-K fiasco, and what led to me to find that it had officially abandoned Baldwin County (after it shouldered $70k in surveying costs, no less) was news that a hybrid van manufacturer is setting up shop in St Louis, which has lost Ford and Chrysler plants. What reminded me of the H-K situation? “Emerald Automotive Limited,” which is promising 600 UAW-represented jobs and gas- and diesel-electric delivery van production by the end of next year, doesn’t have a freaking website. That’s never a good sign…