British car maker will open plant in Connecticut
Bridgeport plant is AC Cars' first in U.S.; move designed to boost American sales.
AC Cars, Britain's oldest sports car company, will build its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Bridgeport as part of a strategy to increase its American sales.
The new plant will build cars that sell for between $90,000 and $150,000. The company expects to build about 50 cars in the first year and increase production to 700 to 800 cars annually after five years, said Alan Lubinsky, company chairman.
The company, which has sold cars in the U.S. sporadically in recent years, has been impressed by the success of BMW's Mini Cooper and believes the time is ripe for so-called niche cars, Lubinsky said.
"We're looking very much at America as a prime market and that's what we're going to concentrate on," Lubinsky said.
AC Cars Manufacturing (USA) Inc. will occupy a 40,000-square-foot facility and create 141 jobs.
The company expects to spend $4.5 million on acquisition and equipment purchase and installation.
The project will be supported by a proposed $1.5 million loan from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development for site preparation, construction, machinery and equipment, and moving expenses.
The funding will require approval from the State Bond Commission.
Bridgeport, Connecticut's largest city, was once a center for manufacturing, including cars. William Armstrong built one of the first automobiles in 1895 in the same building AC Cars is using to launch its U.S. operation. AC Cars was established in 1901 in Britain.
Lubinsky said the company was attracted to Bridgeport because of the area's skilled workforce and concentration of low-volume suppliers.
"AC Cars is proud to be bringing auto-making back to Connecticut," Lubinsky said in a press release. "AC Cars looks forward to being a part of Bridgeport's economic resurgence, and we see a tremendous opportunity for growth and success in the years ahead."