DETROIT - A California-based producer of plastic-bodied, battery-powered cars is looking for investors to help it expand.
Corbin Motors Inc. is seeking $15 million in private money to help it bring more than 2,500 of its fiberglass single-passenger Sparrows to market by the end of this year.
It also is considering a public stock offering in the next two to three years for further growth. It plans to add a production facility in Daytona Beach, Fla., to supply customers on the East Coast and Europe, Felipe Valdivias, customer relations specialist for the Hollister, Calif., manufacturer, said in an interview.
Corbin has orders for 500 of the vehicles, and has 50 of them currently on the street.
The Sparrow production line now shares space in an 82,000-square-foot facility with parent company Corbin-Pacific Inc.'s motorcycle components manufacturing plant.
The parent company wants to move Sparrow into its own 100,000-square-foot building in Hollister by the end of 2000, Valdivias said.
'We can't make them fast enough,' he said. 'The orders are there; we just don't have the multimillion dollars to spend on production.'
The firm plans to complete the purchase of property in Daytona Beach by this spring for a 120,000- to 160,000-square-foot facility there, with a target of turning out 5,000 vehicles by the end of 2001.
Corbin brought its Sparrow line and proposed gasoline-powered Merlin, scheduled to hit the streets in 2002, to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this month.
The 1,500-pound, three-wheel Sparrow has a layered fiberglass body that incorporates carbon fiber, Kevlar fiber and mesh fibers. It retails for $13,900 and is licensed to operate as a motorcycle, running on 11 batteries at a maximum speed of 70 mph and a range of 60 miles.
No price has been set for the Merlin.
'It's like a big motorcycle helmet,' Valdivias said. 'If you were to cut it in half, it would look just like a helmet cut in half.'
Corbin brought its hand-layered molded production techniques over from the motorcycle industry, where it turns out composite saddlebags and other components for bikes. Corbin-Pacific has about 200 employees and Corbin Motors 50, with plans to expand its work force to 200, Valdivias said.
'We're very small at this point, but every month we go a little faster and get a little better,' Valdivias said.