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South Korean Firm to Buy Idled Riverside RV Plant

September 9, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

A South Korean manufacturer will build battery-powered vehicles at a vacant RV factory near Riverside, Calif., and create several hundred new jobs, a Riverside County spokesman announced.

The company, CT&T United, the American subsidiary of CT&T Korea Ltd., will sign a deal Thursday to take over the vacant plant, said Tom Freeman, a spokesman for the Riverside County Economic Development Agency told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

The company is making its first push into the American market and eventually plans to employ as many as 2,600 people in the country, operating several factories along with research and management teams to market several models of battery-operated vehicles.

The factory must be retrofitted to accommodate the production of electric vehicles. The identity of the RV firm that is selling the plant to CT&T was withheld at the request of both parties, Freeman said.

But the news that a manufacturer wants to set up shop in this area was welcomed in a county, once an active producer of RVs, where unemployment hit 14.7% in July.

“They’ve been looking at sites all over the country,” Freeman said. “This will put a lot of people back to work. It’s an important victory for residents here.”

Freeman said elected officials have been working to facilitate a deal for several months. CT&T also was interested in locations in South Carolina, Georgia and elsewhere.

Eventually, it was California’s interest in alternative vehicles that convinced them, he said.

The electric vehicles, which will be priced between $7,000 and $17,000, will be legal to drive on the street but cannot be used on freeways because they travel at about 30 mph, Freeman said. Small electric vehicles can be useful for people whose driving is restricted to in-town activities, and the cars also will be marketed to cities and police departments.

“They fit nicely in our green strategy we’ve been working on since March,” Freeman said.

Freeman did not know how long it would take before the factory was updated and producing.

Young Gi Lee, president and CEO of CT&T Korea, said in a statement released in July that the company would like to start producing some of its models by the end of the year.

Lee, a former ranking executive with Hyundai Motor Co., said then that CT&T plans a major American push in the next few years.

“We have an aggressive market development plan, and our … system will enable us to reach our employment predictions of more than 10,000 people in the U.S. by 2014,” Lee said in the statement.

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