By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org
SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — A gas-powered car – not a battery-packed electric one – has taken the inside track in Domino’s “Ultimate Delivery Vehicle” competition.
Terry McAuliffe’s GreenTech Automotive last year rolled out a neighborhood electric vehicle wrapped with the pizza company’s logo.
At the time, GreenTech said it expected at least 20 Domino’s franchise owners to place orders for its MyCar.
“We’ve got to get 10,000 built over the next year,” McAuliffe, then GTA’s chairman, told Bloomberg News. “If we can get up to 10,000 the first year, that’s a big deal.”
Meantime, Domino’s Pizza Inc. partnered with Arizona-based Local Motors to stage a competition for the design of an exclusive new delivery vehicle that could be used nationwide. And it’s not going electric.
“We’re going for an iconic look – like their brand,” Local Motors spokeswoman Amy Romano said of Domino’s. “Why not custom-build a vehicle like UPS or the Postal Service does?”
Though the competition produced unique designs, the chosen vehicle platform is based on the gas-powered version of the Chevy Spark, whose mileage is rated at a combined 34 mpg by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Domino’s corporate spokesman Chris Brandon said Local Motors was “a good fit for us because of their expertise with community-based design. We’re in process of assessing designs and seeing where it goes.”
Brandon could not confirm GreenTech’s earlier claim of 20 franchise buyers for MyCar. He knew of only one prospective GTA customer – a franchisee based in Southaven, Miss., less than five miles from GreenTech’s temporary assembly facility in Horn Lake.
Diane Barrentine, who operates 12 Domino’s stores in the region that includes the University of Mississippi, said she made a “verbal commitment” to purchase “one or two” MyCars from GTA.
Barrentine said she test-drove a MyCar and compared it favorably with Mercedes Benz’s gas-powered (and faster) Smart Car. She said the 18-mph speed limit on the Ole Miss campus makes the electric MyCar, which tops out at 25 mph, a natural.
“College students like ‘green,’” she observed.
“We’ll place our order by summer and take delivery in the fall,” Barrentine told Watchdog. She expects the car’s price to be “below $20,000.”
Neither McAuliffe nor Marianne McInerney, GTA’s vice president for sales and marketing, returned phone calls seeking comment.
Local Motors said the competition prototypes were designed in just six months and await the green light from Domino’s for the next step.
“There is still some work to be done to integrate all winning elements into a single final concept ready for engineering,” Romano said.
Romano said Local Motors, Domino’s and the delivery-car designers agreed that the conventional gas-powered version of the Spark would be better than an electric vehicle. They cited broader availability and longer driving range, which Romano said was especially important for rural franchises.
Though the conventional Chevy Spark retails for $12,185, Brandon said no price has been set for the Domino’s delivery vehicle. GM says the electric version of the 2014 Spark will cost around $25,000 after a $7,500 federal income tax credit.
Brandon stressed that the Local Motors collaboration with Domino’s is “completely separate” from GreenTech. “This is a national competition,” he said.
Whichever way the pizza maker and its franchisees go, auto blogger and New York Times contributor Jim Motavalli is skeptical about GreenTech’s ability to deliver amidst McAuliffe’s second run for Virginia governor.
“I haven’t seen too many MyCars on the road. None, actually,” Motavalli wrote this month.
“The little MyCar was supposed to launch McAuliffe’s bid for higher office with a clean-tech gleam, but it sure isn’t playing out that way.”
GreenTech sued Watchdog for $85 million this month, alleging that its reporting on the company defamed the firm and damaged relations with prospective investors.
Kenric Ward is a national reporter for Watchdog.org and chief of the Virginia Bureau. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward
- VA: As he runs for governor, McAuliffe wheels and deals electric cars in Mississippi
- VA: Media echo Watchdog exclusive on McAuliffe’s electric car maneuvers
- No news here: PolitFact brands Terry McAuliffe’s electric-car claim ‘false’
- Experts question source of McAuliffe car-company funding
- Terry McAuliffe on business ventures: ‘Some work, some don’t’
- How McAuliffe’s car company failed the Virginia test, landed in Mississippi
- Virginia official wants probe of McAuliffe company ‘visa-for-sale’ program
- McAuliffe car company sues Watchdog in libel claim
- Barack Obama’s GreenTech connection: Rick Wade
- Silence, secrecy, cops follow GreenTech’s China deal
- McAuliffe hones China’s crony-capitalism model in U.S.
- Promises keep Tunica County afloat
- McAuliffe company’s China hook-up: Will it work?
- McAuliffe car lags in Domino’s delivery
- McAuliffe car co. parent in off-shore tax shelter
- Lawmaker gives feds one more week for EB-5 answers
- Bolling: McAuliffe’s Mississippi package ‘attractive’
- Inside, execs knew McAuliffe plan had ‘substantial risk’
- Union darling McAuliffe and his non-union car company
- Did Clinton aid the birth of ‘McAuliffe’ car company?
- McAuliffe feels heat over GreenTech resignation
- TV report: One year later, ‘party is over’ at GreenTech
- Months after he said he left company, McAuliffe kept talking GreenTech
- Clinton connection: More money for McAuliffe
- Terry McAuliffe used loophole to avoid key SEC oversight of his car company
- VA officials: McAuliffe green car more politics than biz
- McAuliffe car company announces it’s ready to roll — again
- Before Watchdog, McAuliffe blamed federal officials for money trouble
- McAuliffe gets cash from GreenTech exec, board members
- Watchdog report on McAuliffe spurs FOI request to Homeland Security
- McAuliffe leaves GreenTech questions hanging at debate
- Totally wired: McAuliffe went to Napolitano to expedite company funding
- McAuliffe bragged about GreenTech’s cash position while begging feds for faster processing of ‘cash for visas’
- Investigation targets Homeland official’s relationship to McAuliffe company
- Even before news of federal probe, McAuliffe ducked GreenTech questions
- McAuliffe company pressed Homeland official on 81 investor visas
- Rodham company sought visa for controversial Chinese exec
- Immigration official says he met with McAuliffe to discuss visas for foreign investors
- Whiners: Mayorkas says Gulf Coast ‘continues to complain’
- VIDEO: Ex-GreenTech employee says little happened at Horn Lake plant
- Online ad to Terry McAuliffe: Drop your lawsuit
- National security on ‘hold’: Lawmakers press McAuliffe for answers
- Citizens United documentary film delves into McAuliffe, GreenTech
- VIDEO: Terry McAuliffe’s 15 million-square-foot car plant … in China
- Feds call McAuliffe car company’s use of investment program ‘possible fraud’
- GreenTech courted Obama’s Solyndra aide
- GOP legislators call for McAuliffe to answer GreenTech questions
- McAuliffe ‘desperate’ over documentary, Citizens United says
- GreenTech weighed Fisker-style federal loan
- Group tells Terry: Follow ‘McAuliffe Standard’ on disclosure
- Car and Driver races into GreenTech controversy
- Congressman: McAuliffe owes Virginians explanation about White House meeting
- Feds loosen oversight as McAuliffe car company makes mysterious management change
- GreenTech execs use Times and ABC to throw McAuliffe under the (non-electric) bus
- Aide in union contribution swap hosts California fund-raiser for McAuliffe
- Despite denials, docs show McAuliffe company asked feds to fast-track visa for investor tied to spy list
- Former Democrat Party director was on GreenTech payroll
- More bad news for McAuliffe car company as GreenTech China venture stalls
- Clinton Foundation posts deficits on McAuliffe’s watch
- VIDEO: GreenTech record dogs McAuliffe at energy forum
- Auto industry expert labels McAuliffe electric car ‘preposterous’
- Democratic leaders have their own Bain pain in Mideast private equity deal
- Hillary PAC adviser served as GreenTech spokeswoman
- New emails add evidence McAuliffe pressed U.S. officials to approve GreenTech funding
- After endorsement, Post shrinks facts to cover Terry McAuliffe
- Ties that bind: Following the McAuliffe-Clinton money trail
- McAuliffe tilts at windmills; Chinese venture goes bust
- Federal investigations cast shadow over McAuliffe on Election Day
- DHS inspector over GreenTech-McAuliffe case is under investigation
- McAuliffe names former GreenTech employee secretary of commonwealth
- McAuliffe lawyers, accountants sort GreenTech stock amid federal investigations
- Nuking filibusters, Dems clear way for Mayorkas at Homeland Security