HORN LAKE — There's a buzz of electricity in the air at the old Dover Elevator Manufacturing facility in Horn Lake, and the excitement involves tenant GreenTech Automotive's first shipment of hybrid and electric cars.

GreenTech Automotive Inc., a start-up high-tech green company, has not only settled into its new home in the former Dover Elevator building in Horn Lake, it's already cultivated an international presence in the hybrid and electric car market.

The first 10,000 cars will be shipped to Denmark, according to company officials.

Trey Agner, facility manager for GreenTech Automotive, said the first car will roll off the assembly line in Horn Lake on July 4.

The roll-out will be every bit as exciting as when the prototypes were unveiled to the public in 2009, according to Agner.

"We have all-electric and some really sharp hybrids," Agner said. Also included in the automotive line is a sports coupe, a sub compact vehicle and a sedan. All totaled, the car lines will feature 42 different colors and vehicles can be custom made.

"To be competitive in the market, our prices will be very affordable," Agner said. "One of the first cars will be a MyCar, an all-electric. It will retail for about $10,000."

Agner said an energy tax incentive could even lower the cost of the vehicles to about $8,000.

Site preparation is under way for GreenTech's plant in Tunica, and plans are proceeding to begin assembly at the Horn Lake site as soon as the ink is dry on a contract to export the first 10,000 cars to Denmark.

Lindsey Garner, plant manager, said Wednesday plans for delivery to Denmark are being finalized.

"They're in negotiations about delivery," Garner said. "We're trying to determine how best to spread that out. It will not be all at once."

Garner said the American market for electric cars is slowly catching up to the electric car market in Europe.

"In European countries, like London, you cannot drive a car into London without paying a pollution tax," Garner said. "There is an exemption for electric vehicles."

There is growing demand in Europe, something which is slowly building on this side of the Atlantic.

"I've traveled in Berlin and in Amsterdam which is full of electric vehicles," Garner said. "The European community is rapidly embracing the electric vehicle concept.

Here, the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt have really taken off. However, those cars cost three times the (GreenTech) car will cost. The first 10,000 will be selling at $10,000.

Our mission statement is it cannot be green unless it's affordably green."

In October 2009, GreenTech officials announced the company's intentions to build a $1 billion hybrid automotive facility on 1,500 acres in nearby Tunica County.

Company officials say the final footprint of the facility could even be a little larger than the planned 500,000 square feet spec building.

The company is leasing the former Dover Elevator space which comprises 376,000 square-feet at 6266 Hurt Road in Horn Lake.

The new high-tech automotive company is based in China. Horn Lake Mayor Nat Baker recently returned from a trip there to talk with company officials.

Baker spent 10 days in China with a delegation which included Tony Rodham, brother to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Rodham is a principal with Grand Gulf Funds Management Corp. based in Washington D.C.

Baker said he plans to meet with Rodham and GreenTech Automotive CEO Charles Wang in Washington during the county's "Blue Ribbon" trip in a few weeks.

"They have some really good ideas," Baker said of Wang and Rodham. "They are real entrepreneurs. They know how to make things work."

Garner said hybrid cars will help revolutionize the automotive industry.

"Our cars will cost less than 10 cents worth of electricity versus a dollar in gasoline at $2.50 a gallon," Garner said.

So far, GreenTech Automotive is approaching 30 employees throughout its operation.

"We're rapidly ramping up," Garner said. 'We project to be at 100 employees by mid-summer and we expect a number of those employees to be Northwest Mississippians.

Garner said plans call for 285 employees by the third quarter of next year and 500 by 2013, eventually exceeding 2,0000 employees if there is enough market demand.

"As we speak we are getting the contractors in to put the assembly line in our Horn Lake facility," Garner said. They will be bringing modules in to assemble. The production there will start out at five cars a day and ramp up to almost 80 a day."

Garner said full production could be in full swing by late 2012 or early 2013 for all five models.

Robert Lee Long: rlong@desototimetribune.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252

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