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McAuliffe car lags in Domino’s delivery

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Part 14 of 73 in the series Terry McAuliffe - Carmogul
WINNER: Domino’s and Local Motors of Phoenix, Ariz., are collaborating on a delivery-car competition, based on the Chevy Spark.

LEADER: Domino’s and Local Motors of Phoenix, Ariz., are collaborating on a delivery-car competition, based on the Chevy Spark.

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.

HAPPY DAYS: Terry McAuliffe and then-Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in “Domino’s” MyCar last year.

HAPPY DAYS: Terry McAuliffe and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in “Domino’s” MyCar last year.

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.

SEE VIDEO OF THE ULTIMATE DELIVERY VEHICLE COMPETITION

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 kenric@watchdogvirginia.org or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward

Part of 73 in the series Terry McAuliffe - Carmogul
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  2. VA: Media echo Watchdog exclusive on McAuliffe’s electric car maneuvers
  3. No news here: PolitFact brands Terry McAuliffe’s electric-car claim ‘false’
  4. Experts question source of McAuliffe car-company funding
  5. Terry McAuliffe on business ventures: ‘Some work, some don’t’
  6. How McAuliffe’s car company failed the Virginia test, landed in Mississippi
  7. Virginia official wants probe of McAuliffe company ‘visa-for-sale’ program
  8. McAuliffe car company sues Watchdog in libel claim
  9. Barack Obama’s GreenTech connection: Rick Wade
  10. Silence, secrecy, cops follow GreenTech’s China deal
  11. McAuliffe hones China’s crony-capitalism model in U.S.
  12. Promises keep Tunica County afloat
  13. McAuliffe company’s China hook-up: Will it work?
  14. McAuliffe car lags in Domino’s delivery
  15. McAuliffe car co. parent in off-shore tax shelter
  16. Lawmaker gives feds one more week for EB-5 answers
  17. Bolling: McAuliffe’s Mississippi package ‘attractive’
  18. Inside, execs knew McAuliffe plan had ‘substantial risk’
  19. Union darling McAuliffe and his non-union car company
  20. Did Clinton aid the birth of ‘McAuliffe’ car company?
  21. McAuliffe feels heat over GreenTech resignation
  22. TV report: One year later, ‘party is over’ at GreenTech
  23. Months after he said he left company, McAuliffe kept talking GreenTech
  24. Clinton connection: More money for McAuliffe
  25. Terry McAuliffe used loophole to avoid key SEC oversight of his car company
  26. VA officials: McAuliffe green car more politics than biz
  27. McAuliffe car company announces it’s ready to roll — again
  28. Before Watchdog, McAuliffe blamed federal officials for money trouble
  29. McAuliffe gets cash from GreenTech exec, board members
  30. Watchdog report on McAuliffe spurs FOI request to Homeland Security
  31. McAuliffe leaves GreenTech questions hanging at debate
  32. Totally wired: McAuliffe went to Napolitano to expedite company funding
  33. McAuliffe bragged about GreenTech’s cash position while begging feds for faster processing of ‘cash for visas’
  34. Investigation targets Homeland official’s relationship to McAuliffe company
  35. Even before news of federal probe, McAuliffe ducked GreenTech questions
  36. McAuliffe company pressed Homeland official on 81 investor visas
  37. Rodham company sought visa for controversial Chinese exec
  38. Immigration official says he met with McAuliffe to discuss visas for foreign investors
  39. Whiners: Mayorkas says Gulf Coast ‘continues to complain’
  40. VIDEO: Ex-GreenTech employee says little happened at Horn Lake plant
  41. Online ad to Terry McAuliffe: Drop your lawsuit
  42. National security on ‘hold’: Lawmakers press McAuliffe for answers
  43. Citizens United documentary film delves into McAuliffe, GreenTech
  44. VIDEO: Terry McAuliffe’s 15 million-square-foot car plant … in China
  45. Feds call McAuliffe car company’s use of investment program ‘possible fraud’
  46. GreenTech courted Obama’s Solyndra aide
  47. GOP legislators call for McAuliffe to answer GreenTech questions
  48. McAuliffe ‘desperate’ over documentary, Citizens United says
  49. GreenTech weighed Fisker-style federal loan
  50. Group tells Terry: Follow ‘McAuliffe Standard’ on disclosure
  51. Car and Driver races into GreenTech controversy
  52. Congressman: McAuliffe owes Virginians explanation about White House meeting
  53. Feds loosen oversight as McAuliffe car company makes mysterious management change
  54. GreenTech execs use Times and ABC to throw McAuliffe under the (non-electric) bus
  55. Aide in union contribution swap hosts California fund-raiser for McAuliffe
  56. Despite denials, docs show McAuliffe company asked feds to fast-track visa for investor tied to spy list
  57. Former Democrat Party director was on GreenTech payroll
  58. More bad news for McAuliffe car company as GreenTech China venture stalls
  59. Clinton Foundation posts deficits on McAuliffe’s watch
  60. VIDEO: GreenTech record dogs McAuliffe at energy forum
  61. Auto industry expert labels McAuliffe electric car ‘preposterous’
  62. Democratic leaders have their own Bain pain in Mideast private equity deal
  63. Hillary PAC adviser served as GreenTech spokeswoman
  64. New emails add evidence McAuliffe pressed U.S. officials to approve GreenTech funding
  65. After endorsement, Post shrinks facts to cover Terry McAuliffe
  66. Ties that bind: Following the McAuliffe-Clinton money trail
  67. McAuliffe tilts at windmills; Chinese venture goes bust
  68. Federal investigations cast shadow over McAuliffe on Election Day
  69. DHS inspector over GreenTech-McAuliffe case is under investigation
  70. McAuliffe names former GreenTech employee secretary of commonwealth
  71. McAuliffe lawyers, accountants sort GreenTech stock amid federal investigations
  72. Nuking filibusters, Dems clear way for Mayorkas at Homeland Security
  73. U.S. judge hands Watchdog a victory over VA governor’s green-car company

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Kenric Ward is a veteran journalist who has worked on three Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers. A California native, he received a BA from UCLA (Political Science/Phi Beta Kappa) and holds an MBA. He reported and edited at the San Jose Mercury News and the Las Vegas Sun before joining Watchdog.org in 2012 as Virginia Bureau Chief.