Alabama Rolls the Hybrid Kinetic Dice

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Hybrid Kinetic (HK) Motors and its chairman, former Brilliance chairman Yung Yeung, have announced plans to build a massive car plant in Baldwin County, Alabama in order to begin production of its fuel efficient vehicles by 2013. The $1.5b plant will produce 300,000 units per year and employ 5,000 Alabamans when it comes online with eventual production planned at one million units per year, according to a release from the Alabama governor’s office. A “full report” from Alabama Live states:

All the HK Motors vehicles will feature a 1.5-liter engine, but despite the engine’s size, the hybrid power sources will allow it to generate up to 400 horsepower, according to C.T. Wang, chief executive of HK Motors.

They will get at least 45 miles per gallon, Wang said, and the plug-in vehicle planned by the carmaker can go 600 miles on a single charge.

OK, is this starting to sound a bit strange? It probably should. The exact same scenario is playing out in Mississippi, where another former Brilliance boss is also building a huge, mysterious auto factory in the face of massive auto production overcapacity. Guess what else the factories have in common?

[Fundraising] will rely heavily on the U.S. government’s EB-5 program, which trades U.S. visas for $1 million invested in the U.S., or $500,000 in rural and high-unemployment areas.

Edward Niedermeyer
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  • FreedMike FreedMike on Sep 26, 2009
    TJ : September 26th, 2009 at 12:30 pm Couple of good points here. First, why not an existing auto plant like NUMMI? This is a simple answer-UAW. No transplant auto manufacturer wants anything to do with the UAW and if a transplant purchaced an old UAW plant there would be labor problems right from the start. Not necessarily union...the cost of labor in the south is radically lower than in the north, California, and the rust belt, as is the cost of living. But I have a feeling that'll change as the rust belt is further decimated by the loss of industry.
  • 95_SC 95_SC on Sep 27, 2009

    Come on now...It's not like this venture is actually ever going to create a job. These folks will take the Government grants and run. Wonder when Senator Shelby will climb back on his Soapbox to oppose handouts to auto makers on this one.

  • BDB BDB on Sep 27, 2009
    Hmmm, there are an awful lot of college graduates looking for decent paying work too! Tell me about it. I had to get a masters degree before I could make a good, middle class existence. don't think people who graduated from college in the '50s had to work at the local coffee shop for $8.75/hour. College has been so oversold, to the point where the value of having an undergrad degree has crashed. I don't even want to think of what someone who just went to high school faces.
  • Gntlben Gntlben on Sep 28, 2009

    My guess as to why they're not buying an existing plant is that it's far easier to meet the E-5 immigration requirements by building a new facility. Also, the INS probably does not consider Fremont, CA to be in need enough to qualify for the half price Green Card. Having said that, there is a 2 year probation period for an E-5 Green Card, it'll be interesting if they can keep this venture going for that long.