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Jordan H. Levy (left), senior vice president of Bannon Automotive, and Paul Wimer (middle), CEO of Bannon Automotive, talk Friday with Randall Wolken, president of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, at a news conference at Hancock Airport, in Syracuse. Officials announced details of Bannon’s plans to build an all-electric Reva car in Onondaga County.

Syracuse, NY -- The all-electric Reva car could begin rolling off an assembly line in Onondaga County by late next year, a senior executive of the newly formed Bannon Automotive company said Friday.

“Our focus is to try and get this in the hands of the public as quickly as possible,” Bannon CEO Paul “Otto” Wimer said during a news conference at Hancock Airport in Syracuse. “We’re looking, based on our current timeline, to have cars available in the third quarter of 2010.”

Wimer said the company is considering several sites within the county. He declined to identify those sites because “that would not help us in our negotiations” with the owners.

Gov. David Paterson said the company planned to assemble the Reva in an existing 150,000-square-foot building in Clay.

Wimer, managing director of Topspin Partners, a venture capital and private equity fund he co-founded in August 2000, said Bannon could get the assembly plant up and running quickly because the Reva Electric Car Co., in Bangalore, India, already is producing the vehicle for Europe. He said Bannon initially will acquire the car’s components from Reva’s factory in India and assemble them in Onondaga County.

That will change as Bannon finds U.S. companies that can manufacture the components, he said. “Ultimately, our goal is to have 80 to 90 percent of our car sourced locally,” he said.

Wimer said another reason the plant could go into operation so quickly is it’s easier to build an all-electric vehicle than one with an internal-combustion engine. “There are far fewer parts,” he said. “So think of assembly rather than manufacturing.”

An entry-level, two-seat version of the Reva will be priced at about $17,000, Wimer said. It would have a top speed of 50-55 mph and could go 50 miles on a charge, he said. A higher-end, three-door hatchback version with four seats will be priced at $20,000 to $25,000, he said. Depending on the model, it would have a top speed of 100 mph and could travel up to 120 miles on a single charge, he said. He said the Reva can be charged overnight from a standard electrical outlet. Unlike hybrid vehicles, the Reva does not have a gas-powered engine for added power.

Bannon, based in Freeport on Long Island, was formed recently to build versions of the Reva for North America. Bannon’s chairman, venture capitalist William “Mickey” Harley, did not attend the news conference because he was in Africa.

Paterson, who joined a host of state and federal politicians at the event, said Bannon has signed a memorandum of understanding with New York to produce the car in Onondaga County. Reva has granted exclusive rights for the U.S. market to Bannon, pending finalization of Bannon’s financing commitments. Wimer said Bannon hopes to complete its financing by the end of this year.

The Metropolitan Development Association, an economic development organization in Syracuse, said Bannon’s decision could result in an initial investment of about $40 million in the plant, with the potential to reach $50 million to $75 million over the next five years.

Production would begin with about 100 employees. Wimer said employment would increase to 250 when full annual production of 15,000 to 20,000 cars is reached.

Paterson said the state will provide $6.76 million in incentives, consisting of a $3 million grant and $3.76 million in wage and tax credits. Bannon will be required to invest at least $26.6 million into the plant and create 250 local jobs over the next three years, he said.

The federal government is expected to provide $52 million in loans and loan guarantees to Bannon.

source: syracuse

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