Philadelphia Steel Magnate Launching Electric Car for US Market
Call it a do-it-yourself electric car. Do-it-yourself if you are steel magnate Barry D. Bernsten, who is investing his own millions in BG Automotive Group with the intention of bringing affordable electric cars to the American market. Bernsten's production plan is to bring 3-4000 units to market in 2008 and over 20,000 in 2009. Is Bernsten for real? And can he realize his goal to beat the major auto manufacturers to the market and put affordable electric cars on American highways?Is BG Automotive for Real?
BG Automotive's BG Electric Cars website is a poor clue whether Bernsten is real. It offers little more than a link to sign up to a mailing list and a hint at the first BG Electric Car, which will not be highway-ready. So we contacted BG Automotive and spoke to Bernsten himself to get the scoop. And here it is: the Philadelphia Inquirer got wind of the story earlier than expected.
And what a story. Bernsten has a private fortune and experience getting funding for his ventures. He has arranged to import cars through Baltimore ports, and is seeking real estate for a Philly-based factory to retrofit the vehicles with batteries and electric motors. Local jobs being created in this economy is big news, so of course, the Inquirer didn't want to sit on the news. As a result, BG Automotive had to rush some web presence into existence. Stay tuned for more.
According the Bernsten, the bodies and chassis are en route now. The rest of the parts will all be US-sourced and assembly will be done first in the factory near Philly. A second factory on the west coast, probably in the Los Angeles area is foreseen.
The BG Affordable Electric Car
The first BG electric car will be a 25mph limited neighborhood electric vehicle with an estimated selling price of $15,995. BG Automotive says the car will meet all DOT/NHTSA safety standards, including dual airbags. The BG NEV (neighborhood electric vehicle) will have a range of 80-150 miles per charge, depending on battery configuration.
In parellel with sales of the NEV, testing will be finalized to get approval to market a full-function electric car which will run at highway speeds. According to Bernsten, "We are going to be the Chevrolet of the EV"; by which he means, lots of options will serve customer choice. Batteries can be selected across the entire range of technologies: lead-sulfate, lead-silicon, nickel hydride, lithium ion. But the target is to get a highway-ready electric car on the US market for $17,995. By 2009.
Is the US Market Ready for the Electric Car?
If BG Automotive succeeds in their plans to bring highway-ready electric vehicles to market by 2009, they will be beating competition from the first wave of affordable electric cars such as the Mitsibushi i MiEV, which has recently announced they will get the i MiEV to the Japanese market in 2009, one year ahead of schedule.
Bernsten is enthusiastic about the prospect of meeting the goals. The only open question in his mind: "Is the US consumer ready to commit to electric vehicles?" You bring the will, Bernsten will bring the way.
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