Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Last Gasp of Carbon Motors

We thought that we had heard the last of Carbon Motors, about which we have blogged previously, when the company went belly-up last year after the US Department of Energy rejected its request for a $310-million loan.

But there remains one final nail to be put in the coffin, and that nail is an auction of the company’s assets – including the operational but not street-legal prototype of the E7 police car, the only one ever built. The car is going to auction on January 23, according to Indianapolis-based Key Auctioneers.

The E7 was to be a purpose-built police car, rather than being a modified regular production car.  The company claimed that it surveyed thousands of law enforcement officers and incorporated their ideas into the design, including cutaway seats that accommodate police officers' bulky gear, rear-hinged rear doors for safer suspect insertion, a rear compartment that could be washed out with a hose, and a twin turbo-charged six cylinder diesel engine intended to take the E7 to a top speed of over 150 mph while delivering fuel efficiency 40% greater than existing police cruisers.

The company further claimed to have received upwards of 20,000 commitments to buy the car once production began, from agencies in every state and from dozens of foreign countries.  Production was to take place in a former Visteon plant in Connorsville, Indiana.

But now, the sole E7 will be offered at auction along with other Carbon Motors assets, including intellectual property, computers and a trade show booth.  Since the company listed $21.7 million in liabilities in its Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, it seems unlikely that the sale of the E7 and the other assets will pay off the full amount.  This despite the company’s attorney stating that the car is being marketed to "very well moneyed car enthusiasts" such as comedian Jay Leno.

If someone as visible as Jay Leno ends up with the car then we will certainly be seeing it again... but not on patrol.