Connersville buys Visteon plant for $500 - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Connersville buys Visteon plant for $500

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Connersville - A startup company can now use the factory in eastern Indiana where it plans to build high-tech police cars, although it's still awaiting a decision on the federal loan it needs to start production.

The city of Connersville took control this week of the vacant Visteon plant that Carbon Motors plans to occupy and potentially have 1,500 workers.

Carbon Motors chief executive William Santana Li said while that was a significant step, it wouldn't mean much unless the company obtains the $310 million it has sought from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program.

The wait since Carbon Motors applied for the loan in August will likely delay the start of production to 2013, rather than the planned 2012 start, Li said.

"It's not a matter of if it's going to happen, it's when," Li told Eyewitness News partners at The Indianapolis Star. "The government can move quickly when it decides it wants to move quickly."

Company officials announced in July they had picked Connersville for the factory. The Visteon plant, which once employed more than 3,000 people, was shut down in 2007.

The city paid $500 to Visteon for building in a deal approved by a bankruptcy court judge in which the city agreed to pay for a $4 million contamination cleanup of the 183-acre site.

"Now the only thing we have between us and the building of police cars in Connersville is the Department of Energy," Mayor Leonard Urban said.

Carbon Motors has developed a prototype of its Carbon E7 squad car, which it says is the first vehicle specifically designed for police use. It includes bulletproof door and dash panels, radiation and biological threat detectors, and a 3-liter diesel engine the company says can reduce fuel costs by up to 40 percent.

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