Being an auto dealer has always called for a commitment. But a Korean company is kicking it up a notch: if you want to sell them, you've got to open an assembly plant to build them.
Including the dealership and factory, that's about a $7 million to $9 million proposition, the company says.
CT&T USA, the U.S. distribution arm of a Korean maker of low-speed electric vehicles, aims to establish 40 retail territories in two years. Each dealer will be expected to open an assembly plant--either alone or in partnership with some local manufacturer--capable of producing 10,000 battery-powered vehicles a year, for a total U.S. capacity of 400,000 units.
That would be divided among several models, says Curt Westlake, CT&T senior director of marketing.
To put that plucky goal in perspective, that's almost twice the total of light vehicles the Volkswagen brand sold in the United States last year and nearly four times Buick's 2009 sales.
The company says dealers initially will assemble knock-down kits supplied from CT&T in Korea. But later plans envision the dealers sourcing--or even manufacturing--some components themselves.
CT&T vehicles are not highway-approved and are designed for speeds of less than 40 mph. They represent a segment that proponents envision for back-road travel and urban commuting and within gated communities and on college campuses.
"These are not golf carts," Westlake says. "They are alternatives to electric city cars. They're street-legal and can travel on roads that have a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour."
He says, "I see a strong market for us of planned communities that have been developed along the coast, like Hilton Head, running from about Virginia down through Florida and around the Gulf Coast to Texas."
He says the company has signed two dealers so far: one in Charleston, S.C., and one in Riverside, Calif.
(Source: Automotive News)