CEO William Santana Li says Carbon Motors Corp. expects to be on track to deliver its first purpose-built police cars in 2013 if a request for a federal loan is successful.
Although the Indiana company has no orders, Li said, "We have over 13,000 reservations from 350-plus law enforcement agencies in 48 states." Those reservations are not binding and assume that the vehicles are competitively priced and meet safety standards, he said.
The first vehicle "will roll off the line 36 months after the Obama administration approves the federal loans," said Li, an ex-Ford executive.
Last year Carbon Motors applied for a $310 million loan from the federal government. The U.S. Department of Energy is in charge of lending $27 billion under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Li expects an answer this summer.
Carbon Motors is funded by private investors, Li said. He declined to reveal who they are, how many there are or how much they have invested.
On March 22, Carbon Motors signed a multiyear agreement with BMW AG to purchase 240,000 of the automaker's inline six-cylinder diesel engines, cooling and exhaust-gas systems and automatic transmissions over several years -- a contract estimated at about $1.2 billion.
The first engines are scheduled to be delivered in July 2013. Carbon Motors plans to refurbish a former Visteon Corp. plant in Connersville, Ind., to create an assembly plant for its E7 police car.
The company has said that since its founding in 2003, it has worked with more than 800 law enforcement agencies to create the vehicle. One running vehicle has been created for publicity purposes.
"We got the demand, we got the product, we got the team, we got 20-odd suppliers behind us. We got BMW. We got the local and state authorities, who have put up $28 million worth of commitments," Li said in a telephone interview. "Now we are just waiting for the federal authorities."
Prices for the E7 police car and its 50-plus options have not been announced.
The 13,000-plus nonbinding reservations from police agencies are based on "the assumption that the vehicle is competitively priced; two, it meets or exceeds all safety and regulatory requirements; and three, it will be backed by a comprehensive service plan," Li said.