The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A Korean company announced Thursday it would spend $21 million to begin assembling electric cars in South Carolina.

Gov. Mark Sanford called the announcement a celebration of "the unleashing of the green technology revolution" in the state — one that will produce needed jobs.

"This notion of about 400 jobs in the Upstate is a big deal," he said.
Seoul-based will use a subsidiary and Spartanburg-based 2AM Group to make the low-speed electric vehicles at its first North American production line in Duncan in Spartanburg County. It can assemble up to 30,000 of the small cars, but initial plans call for up to 10,000 cars produced with a single shift and 370 workers, said Joseph White, CT&T USA Inc.’s chief operating officer.

The cars — slightly larger than golf carts — start at around $13,000, but options including air conditioning and longer lasting lithium-polymer batteries can add to the tab. Models with traditional lead-acid batteries can travel 44 miles between charges.

Laws limit the vehicles’ speed to 25 mph and typically restrict where they can be driven. White hopes legislatures around the country will change those limits. In South Carolina, current state law allows low speed vehicles to travel up to two miles on secondary roads. South Carolina lawmakers this year considered but did not pass a law allowing them to travel five miles between a business and home on secondary roads.

While the initial production will use all imported parts, the company expects to use U.S.-sourced parts completely within 18 months, White said. The company already is lining up tires from Michelin, which has several South Carolina plants, and an Augusta, Ga.,-based battery maker, he said.

Artie Perry, 2AM’s chief operating officer, says expansion plans rely on changing consumer and business attitudes.

"At the moment, these vehicles best work where people live, work and play in the same area — that’s the best fit," Perry said. "The thing that I think is bothering the EV industry right now is the public wanting something that does the same thing that the petrol vehicle does, and that’s not currently possible in an affordable method."

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