Electric Chang’an Ben Ben roadtested in Boston….

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Odd how the owner of the company, and interviewee Mr. Bernsten wouldnt say who the manufacturer of the car originally was, despite it being rather obvious.

Automaker CEOs don’t make a habit of pulling up to The Boston Globe in a rental truck, dumping a prototype in the parking lot, and handing the keys to a writer. But that’s exactly what happened Monday as BG Automotive president Barry Bernsten and a lime green hatchback made an impromptu visit as I returned with lunch. Usually food has a much higher priority than thoughts of obscure manufacturers and strange-looking concept cars, but this time, my chicken burrito lost.

Bernsten, a Philadelphia steel entrepreneur turned environmentalist, formed “Be Green” Automotive in 2005 to make low-cost electric cars “unlike Tesla or Fisker,” the high-performance electric and plug-in hybrid models that sell for more than $80,000. Earlier in the day, Bernsten showed his C100 prototype to Massachusetts officials – including energy resources commissioner Philip Giudice – and is now in other New England states trying to drum up support for loans, including a proposed $150 million from the Department of Energy, according to a report from the Boston Herald.

“It’s a very capital-intensive business,” he said to the Globe. “If I finance it personally, we could put a hundred cars a month on the road. If we could get some public assistance and loan guarantees or low-interest loans … then we could put 15,000.”

Bernsten says he’s on target for a May or June launch, but he hasn’t figured out where he’s going to build the car, which will sell from $16,000 to $18,000. The goal is to construct six $25 million plants, each with a capacity for 15,000 cars per month and a workforce of 400 to 500 people. The Globe reported last month that BG Automotive was looking to open its first plant in Massachusetts, but the company will likely go to whichever state opens its coffers first.

From Boston.com via old man Pete

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6 Comments

  • joninchina
    March 19, 2009

    OK, here’s the big question…………reading the brief review of the car’s driving abilities, what happened? Do the batteries/electric motor make the car so much heavier that the brakes don’t work now? I’ve driven the Ben Ben (albeit briefly), the brakes seemed just fine to me. Also, reading the reader’s comments at the end of the article……not real good. I think Changan needs to be a little more “proactive” with this co-op venture with BG industries and make sure that quality control is a little higher! One last question – is Changan going to sell this car in China, or is this just for export right now? This is REALLY interesting news, and I’m hoping that they get the quality bugs worked out – THIS is the kind of car that needs to be on chinese streets, and it will also give the upcoming(BYD)F0DM some competition!!

  • dragin
    March 19, 2009

    Could it be Chang’an’s Canadian partner, Electrovaya of Ontario who is doing the electric conversion of Ben Ben for BG Automotive?
    BG’s website says their model runs off lead acid batteries, while reports about Electrovaya’s conversion of the BenBen, seem to indicate that they will be using lithium iron batteries in the conversion.

  • tim
    March 19, 2009

    The way I see it, quality can either be inspected in, or built in. Inspecting it in, the American/European way, requires heavy human labor, which is readily available in the mainland for cheap. Considering the push to maintain employment, these automakers should hire a legion of unemployed migrant workers to just inspect the hell out of every single aspect of the car. High quality, marginal increase in cost, be in better favor with the govt, what’s there to lose?

  • Garage Equipment, Tire Changer
    May 16, 2009

    BHTools is your source for all workshop equipment for Mercedes Benz. Our warehouse is packed with essential products, including 2 Post Lifts, 4 Post Lifts, Tyre Changers, Wheel Balancers, OPTL/ ATL Mot Test Lanes, Compressors, Workshop Presses. We also specialise in car and truck diagnostic tools. On top of that we also offer free delivery, installation and training for all destinations of the UK.

  • Gavin Wright
    October 4, 2010

    Lead Acid batteries should be replaced with a new type of battery that weigh less .:~

  • Paving Slabs ·
    November 9, 2010

    Lead acid batteries should always be recycled because lead should never be dumped on the soil`

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