Yang Rong's Hybrid Kinetic Motors signs contract with Giugiaro
by Wayne Xing
MONTGOMERY, AL - Hybrid Kinetic Motors Corp. (HKMC), a new start-up carmaker in the U.S., signed a contract here on Tuesday with famed Italian design house, Italdesign-Giugiaro, to design the next generation of hybrid vehicles to be built in Alabama.
Dr. Yung Yeung (Rong Yang), chairman of HKMC, and Italdesign-Giugiaro chairman Giorgetto Giugiaro signed the contract. Present at the ceremony were Alabama governor Bob Riley and Alabama Development Office director Neal Wade.
European, North American and Chinese media participated at the ceremony. Also participating are officials from the Hefei Economic Development Area, Tianjin Economic Development Area and Ningbo Hangzhou Bay New Area. Yang Rong told
that HKMC is working with these economic development areas for building future OE and supplier factories in China.
A concept HKMC vehicle designed by Italdesign-Giugiaro was unveiled at the ceremony. The world famous Giugiaro is a member of the Automotive Hall of Fame and Designer of the Century.
Italdesign-Giugiaro will be responsible for styling, engineering, testing, prototyping and production support of the family of HK Motors vehicles and will coordinate all the suppliers involved.
Vincent Wang, HKMC vice president, said that the Baldwin County and Alabama state governments have offered great terms for the HKMC plant. Currently Alabama is host of assembly plants of Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Hyundai, which annually produce 870,000 cars. Toyota has an engine plant in Alabama.
Yang Rong, former chairman of Brilliance China, worked with Giugiaro and Italdesign 12 years ago to engineer the first of China's independent mid-size sedan, the Zhonghua. "It has been my dream to create an indigenous Chinese car brand since the 1990s in China," said Yang at the ceremony. "Working with Giugiaro again for a new green vehicle will help me continue realizing my dream of building an independent Chinese brand." Yang Rong was forced to leave China when the Liaoning government issued an arrest warrant in 2002 on charges of alleged "embezzlement of State funds."
Giugiaro, who is referred to by Alabama governor Bob Riley as a "living legend," said he is very pleased to work with Yang and HKMC again in developing and engineering a new generation of cars.
According to company planning, initial production of the plant in Alabama will begin in 2013. HKMC claims that its planned vehicles will be the "world's most efficient cars and trucks by using a combination of compressed natural gas as the primary fuel plus minimal gasoline as well as battery power."
Alabama governor Bob Riley welcomed HKMC's decision to set up a plant in Alabama, which will have an initial investment of $1-$1.5 billion, providing local 4,000 jobs with a minimum pay of no less than $15 an hour. Neil Wade, director of Alabama Development Office believes that his state and HKMC will enter into a partnership of building an assembly plant for the next generation of vehicles. "HKMC has chosen Baldwin Country because it offers a good site and Alabama also has an existing supply base," Wade said.
"HKMC has an interesting business model that may change the current North American auto management landscape," said an executive from a North American supplier. "The concept about new energy, about OE assembly, about supply chain, about labor cost and relations may all change. This should be a historical change. The current business models of GM, Chrysler and Ford can hardly go on forever and eventually they may either disappear or acquired by others."
At this early stage of a brand new company and product, analysts question HKMC's source of funding as well as the future prospects of the new vehicles, to be named Hybrid Kinetic or Zhengdao in Chinese.