Halifax, TMI AutoTech collaborate on racecar
The Halifax Industrial Development Authority is teaming up with Alton-based TMI AutoTech to develop a new sports racecar.
TMI, located in the Virginia Motorsport Technology Park at the Virginia International Raceway (VIR), is the North American manufacturer of the Ariel Atom, a high-performance sports car. The new racecar has not been named but has been dubbed TMI Sniper in project plans.
The vehicle will be different from the Ariel Atom but is expected to appeal to the same target audience of amateur and semi-professional drivers, says Doug Corrigan. He is the executive director of the Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center in South Boston, which is helping to create the car.
The goal is to sell 100 TMI Snipers annually at a starting price of $135,000 five years after production of the vehicle starts. Like the Ariel Atom, the racecars will be customized, so the cost per vehicle may exceed $135,000 depending on the features added and materials used. The car’s developers are hoping to complete the first TMI Sniper by December.
The Halifax Industrial Development Authority and TMI AutoTech received an $838,786 grant from the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission for the project, and they expect $850,000 to come from private investors. Nineteen jobs are expected to be created after vehicle production starts. The positions would include machinists, assembly technicians, mechanical engineers and precision welders.
Various local organizations will be involved in the car’s production. The tires that TMI wants to use on the new vehicle will be tested at the National Tire Research Center in Halifax County. A virtual prototype of the car will be created at the Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center. The car’s parts will be created at TMI’s headquarters, the R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston and a new composite materials lab at the Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center.
The new lab will enable TMI to create its own light-weight, high-strength materials needed for its products, such as glass fiber-reinforced plastic and carbon fiber, which it previously imported from the United Kingdom.
“One of [TMI’s] business model components is to market those services to other automotive manufacturers, other aerospace manufacturers that need lightweight, high-strength composite materials,” Corrigan says.
The car will be assembled at TMI’s headquarters and tested at VIR’s track. The car’s composite parts also will be coated and finished at the National Center for Coatings, Application, Research, and Education at the Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center. The only part of the vehicle that won’t be made in Halifax County will be its engine, which will be manufactured by California-based Honda Performance Development.
Corrigan says Halifax wants to showcase this project so manufacturers can use the county’s resources in a similar manner, whether a business is producing cars, unmanned aerial vehicles or another product. “We want people to see through this project that we have these resources, and they would then take advantage of them to do their project,” he says. “We sort of want this to be the poster child for us.”