Banker wants to make Indiana the next electric car center with Symphony Motors

Got some extra money? Want to build and sell electric cars instead of just buy one? Then you're a bit like Steve Tolen.
Tolen and his EV dreams were profiled in this weekend's Indianapolis Business Journal. Those dreams are big: starting with nothing today (no model, no prototype, nothing) Tolen and his new startup Symphony Motors, want to have a car in production in 18 months. And that vehicle is supposed to have a 100-mile range, have quick acceleration and be capable of highway speeds, be safe and use lithium ion batteries. The company will buy all the parts it needs and manufacture the cars in Indiana. Tolen's plans call for making a few hundred cars in the first year, and 3,400 by 2012. Oh, and they'll be sold for $50,000. That's kind of the plan for Tesla's WhiteStar, and they've been working on EVs for a few years now.

Perhaps I shouldn't be so skeptical. Tolen did create Symphony Bank, which caters to the rich (does the bank you use have "extra-wide heated parking spaces and concierge services"?) and is doing well. Targeting the high-end seems to be Tolen's goal with his EV, too.

"We don't need to sell a lot of vehicles to do very, very well," Tolen told the IBJ.

Tolen has attracted other dreamers, like Giorgio Rizzoni, director of the Center for Automotive Research at Ohio State University and Bill Wylam, who retired from General Motors after working on the EV1, to his company.

Joseph Pekny, director of Purdue University's E-Enterprise Center, told the IBJ that Tolen's probably looking to make start-up and sell it to a larger automaker.

We'd love to see more EVs on the market, but if Tolen doesn't have some amazing secret method to making his hopes a reality, perhaps he needs to tone down the hype a bit. Otherwise, he won't need the "Sym" in his company's name for long.

[Source: Peter Schnitzler / Indianapolis Business Journal]

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