From Israeli Army to American Consumers?

April 7, 2008
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Tomcar USA, a Phoenex, Arizona start-up, has officially opened its first U.S. assembly line for a unique side-by-side, off-road vehicle that was invented in an Israeli Defense Forces motor pool. Tomcar had been building by hand a very small number of the dune-buggy-like vehicle, with its tubular-steel structure, near its Phoenix headquarters. However, Tomcar has signed a contract with EDAG Inc., the American subsidiary of a European engineering company, and set up a dedicated Tomcar assembly line in Auburn Hills, Mi.

The plant is capable of turning out between 5,000 and 10,000 of the unique vehicles annually, according to EDAG officials. EDAG, which posted more than $1 billion in sales last year selling its services around the world, also is helping Tomcar with purchasing and engineering, EDAG officials said. EDAG has arranged for the assembly-line version of the Tomcar to be powered by either a gasoline engine built by the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., General Motors principal partner in China or, in the future, by a small diesel engine built in Italy, EDAG officials said.

The Tomcar vehicle was originally designed by Yoran Zarchi, head of the Israeli army’s special forces vehicles unit in the early 1990s. Over the years, it has been widely used by both IDF and Israeli Border Patrol. The Israeli-built versions also have developed something of a cult following among off-road racers. Tomcars are already sold in Australia. Plans for the company's expanded dealer network will be unveiled soon, Tomcar officials have promised. The Tomcar is described as perfect for recreational uses; consumers looking for a vehicle that are more stable than a typical ATV and for military and police agencies that patrol in rugged terrain.

“Due to the overwhelming demand from both the recreational and commercial sectors of the market, we have been forced to accelerate our plans for establishing a full-scale production facility,” said Guy Poran, chairman and chief executive officer for Tomcar Global Holdings. “We are delighted that a company with EDAG’s experience and reputation has agreed to partner with us in this undertaking because it serves to underline the importance we give to the performance, reliability and durability of what is a unique automotive product,” Poran said.

Volker Amelung, president of EDAG US, said he was excited Tomcar had selected his company to build the vehicle. “We intend to build the best side-by-side vehicle in the market, and we will do it with state-of-the-art technology and quality,” he said. “Like Tomcar, we take a long-term view of our business and are ready, willing and able to do the required investments in this exciting product,” added Amelungm who said the Auburn Hills assembly line is EDAG’s first venture into mass production of a vehicle for a client company. By Joseph Szczesny

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