CARBON MOTORS – In The Past And The Future

Carbon Motors – In The Past And The Future

            Carbon Motors Corporation was a private automotive corporation founded in Los Angeles, California that designed and developed purpose-built police cars. It was established by Stacy Dean Stephens, and William Santana Li who is a former executive of Ford Motor Company. It was a security company that was established to design, develop, manufacture, distribute, service, and recycle the E7, its first purpose-built police car.


            Carbon Motors’ E7 (aka The Machine) is not just the conventional police car seen running on streets and chasing criminals. It is a police car designed primarily to perform police functions. It provides interagency solutions and will have a material and positive effect on every town, city, county, state, school campus, and every place where the public can be.

            To realize its design objectives, it is equipped with features such as infrared cameras, extensive speed detection hardware, 360-degree surveillance cameras as well as cutting-edge technology in license plate recognition and On-board Rapid Command Architecture (ORCA). It is built on a purpose-built chassis and is designed to a 250,000 mile durability specification and a top speed of 155 mph.

            It is no big gas guzzler, yet its performance remains topnotch, making it a fast, economical, and longer lasting police car than the conventional ones. Its seats are made to give ergonomic support to cops and accommodate utility belts full of police equipment such as handcuffs, bullets, and handguns, and it even has a weapons detector attached to it.


            Considering that there are more or less 450,000 conventional police vehicles in the United States, Carbon Motors aims to eliminate the possible problems that the police force may experience solely because of their vehicles. Usually, contracts for the purchase of new police vehicles start out as retail passenger cars that were ever intended for police use. After purchase of these conventional cars, law enforcement agencies spend money to customize these once passenger cars into their own police cars. The following are the problems usually met by officers on these vehicles:

  1. Some police vehicles lack the utility and safety equipment not only to assist wounded officers, but also to secure captured offenders to prevent them from causing any more harm.
  2. These vehicles are never subjected to crash tests, and the safety of the officers can never be assured.

            Carbon Motors has envisioned these situations that police officers encounter whenever they are in a mission. Thus, it aims to reduce, and eliminate these problems not only to ensure peace in the community, but also to keep the law enforcing officers safe from any harm or danger.


            Confident with the E7’s capability, Carbon Motors Chairman William Santana Li said that the company has contracted several manufacturers to supply the parts of the police car. He believes since 2001 that an effective homeland security strategy demands new solutions to old problems, and that a company like Carbon Motors is ready to take up the challenge. In fact, he said that at a vehicle demonstration, law enforcement officials and fleet managers were impressed with its features and expressed great interest in its production. Positive with the possible improvements that the E7 can bring, Carbon Motors had been exerting efforts and sales pitches since then, to promote and hopefully, to produce the cop car of the future.

            Pricing was not of any priority that time, because Carbon Motors focused more on how to introduce this revolutionary police car to government agencies. Despite that, it allowed pre-ordering by these agencies to help the company determine the types and sizes that it has to produce. Stacy Dean Stephens even said that at its first introduction, agencies in all states contacted them, asking how much the vehicle would cost, how long it will take them to produce, and when the company will get service.


            Carbon Motors, pursuant to their goal of offering their purpose-built police cars, exerted all its efforts to introduce it to many law enforcement agencies. Considering that the purpose is imbued with public interest, Carbon Motors ultimately has to get the heart and the consent of the government through the Department of Energy. It applied for a $310 million federal loan that it can use to realize these expectations.

            While everyone is impressed with the E7, the United States government thinks otherwise.

            After a series of approvals made during 2009, the government through the Department of Energy had finally rejected the loan application after 30 months of negotiation. Officials of the company said that the decision was influenced by politics. However, when asked to explain, government officials said that Carbon Motors’ business plan simply “was not strong enough.”


            Because of unsatisfied contracts with manufacturers of parts, Carbon Motors suffered from negative cash flow. Despite receiving about $200 million in private and public financing, the company cannot show their clients anything, and the amount is not sufficient to pay wages considering that marketing efforts were at its peak. The rejection of the $310 million loan by the government led the company to cease operations and, eventually, leave their facilities.

            Carbon Motors eventually filed for bankruptcy, officially listing its liabilities at $21.7 million, comprising of claims from investors who had placed millions of dollars into the company. The Indianapolis Business Journal reports that among these claims was the $3.6 million from Chicago billionaire Joe Mansueto, the founder and CEO of investment research from Morningstar Inc. Its assets, surprisingly is at $18,976, which comprises the sole prototype of the would-be police car of the future, some furniture, corporate books, and its intellectual property.


            Carbon Motors never made any public announcement as to their liquidation, but it was made known that despite the rejection of the loan, it still tried to do sales pitches, hoping to improve their financial condition. The public has mixed views about it. Most of them showed impression, while only a few showed dissatisfaction.

            Carbon Motors’ E7 could have been the perfect partner for law enforcement officers in maintaining peace and pursuing justice. While the company is officially liquidated, its ideas will surely be introduced once again, in the guise of another company.