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03/20/2008

Carbon Motors Brings Law Enforcement Vehicles Into the 21st Century

Georgia Centers of Innovation Grant Funds Final Phase Research

ATLANTA — Imagine a pick up truck loaded with hoses and water tanks rolling into your drive masquerading as a fire truck. Or an ambulance arriving on the scene in the form of a station wagon with a stretcher and life-saving equipment strapped in the back. Unthinkable, right?

As far-fetched as it sounds, retrofitting existing consumer vehicles is how the 425,000 law enforcement vehicles across the country are currently made. Not for long, however -- if Carbon Motors (www.carbonmotors.com) has anything to do with it.

“Our nation’s law enforcement first responders operate in vehicles never designed, and certainly not equipped, to handle today’s requirements,” said William Santana Li, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Carbon Motors Corporation.

Over 80 percent of law enforcement vehicles today are modified Ford Crown Victorias – a retail passenger car. These dated vehicles are fitted with after-market lights, window partitions, cameras, gun mounts, computers, printers and other ad-hoc modifications, typically installed individually by law enforcement agencies after purchasing the vehicle from a local dealership.

One obvious issue associated with the current process is the significant inefficiency of over 19,000 agencies in the US buying cars and after-market equipment on an individual basis with no economies of scale – yielding a final product that meets less than 20 percent of the requirements law enforcement seek, according to extensive research by Carbon. The less obvious issues include length of delivery time and the poor fuel efficiency (6 – 14mpg) associated with the estimated 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline burned by our nation’s law enforcement fleet each year.

According to Li, Carbon Motors stands ready to present a significantly better option: a purpose-built law enforcement vehicle; some of the key elements incorporated into car design include:

-- A clean-diesel, inline six engine resulting in a staggering 40 percent savings in fuel over current vehicles.

-- An ergonomically designed “cockpit” with integrated technology.

-- Coach rear doors, allowing for easier suspect insertion.

-- Designed to 250,000-mile durability specification.

-- Fully integrated lighting system.

-- 360-degree video surveillance.

In addition to the impressive function improvement, the economies of scale and effective use of applied construction keep the cost within the average nationwide cost of the current retrofitted vehicles.

In the final stages of design, the company recently received a $100,000 matching grant, awarded through the OneGeorgia Authority, in conjunction with the Georgia Centers of Innovation. The grant funds research at Georgia Tech to study 142 specific human-machine interface items – the placement of the emergency equipment, the switches, hand controls and displays, for example.

When the Carbon Motors production center is open, it is estimated the company will have a $3 billion economic impact on the region and create over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs throughout the state over a 10-year period; using existing automotive suppliers in Georgia’s rural areas is just one of the ways the company will positively impact jobs.

Learn more at www.carbonmotors.com and www.georgiainnovation.org.


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