Terry McAuliffe, Democratic nominee for governor in Virginia, told a conference of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers in April 2010 that GreenTech Automotive, the company he chaired at the time, was going to build a hybrid and electric car manufacturing plant in Virginia. “I’m going to put it right in the heart of Virginia,” McAuliffe promised his receptive audience of union members. “And we’re going to have 2,000 folks down there — all of them union members — and show that when you do it right, everybody benefits, including the state of Virginia.”
But McAuliffe never made good on that promise.
McAuliffe made the grand yet unfulfilled claim to Virginians one month after he became the chairman and 25% owner of GreenTech Automotive, a position that he held until his resignation in December 2012. At the time, the company was well along in negotiations with the state of Mississippi to receive a $5 million loan package for the construction of a planned Tunica County, Mississippi plant. In 2011, that deal was completed and the state loaned $3 million to GreenTech Automotive and $2 million to Tunica County, Mississippi. The county used its loan to acquire 100 acres of land and shortly thereafter transferred ownership of that land to GreenTech Automotive.
In July, the only structure that stood on the 100 acre lot in Tunica County, Mississippi where McAuliffe promised his company would build an electric vehicle manufacturing facility was a temporary construction trailer. That same month, GreenTech Automotive announced that it had spent $6.6 million to make the site construction ready, and had now begun the construction phase of the project.
A spokesperson for the McAuliffe campaign said that GreenTech Automotive had manufactured a total of 100 electric vehicles at the manufacturing facility it leases in Horn Lake, Mississippi, about 30 miles north of the 100 acre lot in Tunica County, Mississippi up until December 2012, when McAuliffe resigned as chairman. In a recent interview with a Memphis television station, a former employee estimated that the company manufactured 30 electric vehicles during his one and a half years working on the production line at the Horn Lake facility.
In July 2012, former President Bill Clinton, former Republican Governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour, and GreenTech Automotive President and CEO Charles Wang joined then Chairman McAuliffe at an elaborate party held at the Horn Lake location to celebrate the beginning of electric vehicle production there.
When McAuliffe made his promise to build a hybrid and electric car manufacturing plant in Virginia to the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers in April 2010, he set forth no conditions upon the promise. At the time, GreenTech Automotive’s negotiations with the state of Virginia to secure financial incentives were at an early stage. Those negotiations never got past preliminary discussions.