Photo: Carbon Motors

Photo: Carbon Motors

Carbon Motors Corp. has turned to President Obama's cabinet for help moving forward its stalled cruiser concept more than two years after submitting a federal loan application.

In an open letter to eight federal department heads and Vice President Joe Biden, the company's chairman and chief executive asked "for your help in making this happen" with the "timely approval of our ATVM loan." Approving the loan would be in the country's national security and socioeconomic interests, William Li wrote in the letter.

Carbon Motors submitted an application in late 2009 to the U.S. Department of Energy for a $310 million loan under an incentive program called the ATVM (Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing) Loan Program. The program was established by Section 136 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to stimulate more green jobs in the automotive industry.

Vehicles developed through the program must meet a higher fuel-efficiency standard—125% of the 2005 base-year CAFE fuel efficiency standards—than similar conventional vehicles.

In his letter, Li addresses each cabinet member in an attempt to make a wide-ranging case for the vehicle. The letter was sent to Attorney General Eric Holder, Commerce Secretary John Bryson, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, and Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew.

After unveiling its E7 patrol car in 2008, Carbon Motors brought the vehicle to numerous law enforcement trade shows. In late July of 2009, the company announced it would take over a former Ford factory in Connorsville, Ind., where it would produce the vehicle.

In late November of that year, the company announced that it had secured $100 million in private financing for the vehicle that allowed it to hire associates and open the factory.

At the same time, the company submitted its federal loan application. In January 2010, Department of Energy officials notified the company that it's application was "substantially complete." The company has hired architect Moody Nolan, Inc. to redevelop the campus into an environmentally sustainable facility.

By June of 2010, high-grade supplier partners such as BMW, Bosch, and Inteva agreed to provide the vehicle's engine, electrical architecture, and cockpit.

The E7 patrol vehicle, which had been scheduled to be produced in 2012, is the brainchild of Stacy Dean Stephens, a former patrol officer in the Dallas suburb of Coppell, Texas.

By Paul Clinton

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