ZAP Breaks Ground on Electric Car Factory in Kentucky

Work commenced at the site of a $175 million electric car factory in Franklin, Kentucky, according to officials for Integrity Automotive, a joint venture to expand electric vehicle manufacturing in the USA for ZAP.

ZAP Alias Prototype

[social_buttons]The State of Kentucky has suddenly jumped into the world of electric cars.  First in early August Governor Steve Beshear signed an executive order that allowed low speed vehicles on Kentucky roads with speed limits of 45 mph or less.  Soon thereafter the state developed a $48 million incentive package to encourage ZAP to build an electric car manufacturing plant in Kentucky.

ZAP’s vehicles are currently manufactured in China, but according to the company’s CEO Steve Schneider, the costs of logistics for ZAP have risen in recent years, particularly to ship vehicles from California to the East Coast.  A Kentucky manufacturing plant would help reduce that cost, he said.

They sure didn’t waste any time.  Construction equipment arrived at the site of the Wilkey North Industrial Park on Thursday September 11th, and a site contractor with a work crew have been mobilized to prepare the 200-plus acre site for rough grading, according Randall S. Waldman of Integrity Manufacturing. The goal of the project is a one million square foot factory for electric vehicles, a project with an estimated value of $100 million. The factory is expected to begin producing electric vehicles within 12 months and employ up to 1,000 people initially with the possibility of more in the future.

There had been some confusion as to whether this plant would manufacture the existing medium-speed ZAP Xebra, or the highway-speed prototype ZAP Alias.  The Alias has been proposed for production at the plant, and a prototype was unveiled at the groundbreaking ceremony. The two companies are discussing ways to expand manufacturing for ZAP’s entire product line in Kentucky. ZAP CEO Steve Schneider said the joint venture would be a huge boost for ZAP’s business plans, which have seen record orders this year tied to record gas prices.

“What Randy has put together, and the legislators in Kentucky, it made things happen at lightning speed. That’s what America should be about,” said Schneider at the ceremony. “Now with all the economic incentives that Kentucky has put together at such a rapid pace, those incentives have allowed us to offset the low-cost of labor in China and bring manufacturing back to America, and that’s something we are very, very proud of.” Schneider added: “We are hopeful the Federal Government will assist programs like this that spur job creation in America.”

“This represents an investment not only in this community, but in the future of this country,” said Governor Steve Beshear, who welcomed the companies and noted the importance of investing energy efficient technologies and increasing the use of renewable resources.

It it certainly a positive that such a large manufacturing plant is being constructed within the United States, adding to the confidence of high-quality to electric vehicle manufacturing, and also showing ZAP’s committment to producing their prototype Alias.  The Alias (pictured above) is expected to cost $32,500, have a top speed of 100 mph, a range of 100+ miles per charge, accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, and delivery is expected to begin in 2009.  The plant is expected to be completed in 2009 with an initial capacity of 300 vehicles per day.

Source: CNN Money

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Dana Nuccitelli

Dana earned a Bachelor's degree in astrophysics from UC Berkeley in 2003 and a Master's degree in physics from UC Davis in 2005. Through college, he grew increasingly interested in environmental issues, particularly global warming and alternative fuel vehicles. After earning his Master's degree, Dana became employed at an environmental consulting firm in the Sacramento, California area. He currently works as an Environmental Scientist, primarily perfoming research and contributing to the cleanup of contaminated former military defense sites.