His New Venture is 'Ruff & Tuff' Electric Cars

Mike McQuary's experience running Internet service Mindspring is proving useful in running his new electric car startup: RTEV.

Published: 04-Aug-2008

As the Internet revolution gained steam in the mid-1990s, Mike McQuary walked away from a comfortable career as an operations manager for Mobil's chemical division to join a small Atlanta dial-up service called Mindspring. That career gamble paid off in 1999 when the Internet service provider announced a merger with California-based EarthLink (ELNK)—leaving McQuary, by then Mindspring's president, "enough money to do anything," as he says, "but not enough money to do nothing."

But what to do next? After seeing the merger through, McQuary, who is now 48, left EarthLink, started a small record label, and dabbled as an angel investor. But he didn't really find his next calling until he stumbled on Who Killed the Electric Car?, the 2006 documentary that chronicled the short life of General Motors' (GM) EV1 electric car. As he watched the film, McQuary was struck by the zeal that the customers who leased the EV1 had for the project. "That passion—the only other time I'd seen that was in the early days of the Internet," he recalls.

Soon after, McQuary bought a stake in a small South Carolina company that made golf carts, and he has spent the past two years remaking it into a platform for his next big venture: the launch in early 2009 of a low-speed—but street-legal—electric car. By 2010, McQuary hopes that the company, RTEV (which stands for Ruff & Tuff Electric Vehicles), will be one of the first companies to come to market with a full-speed electric car. "We can make great cars that customers can actually get excited about," McQuary says.


Ray Lane, managing partner of venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins, Caufield and Byers, which has invested in Think, believes Think could eventually sell as many as 30,000 to 50,000 City cars a year.

The production electric vehicle to be introduced in 2010 will have a unique bodystyle and is not based on any existing Nissan model, unlike the technology 'mule' pictured above.

The 100-mile range electric car has been operating with Japanese power companies for the last two years.


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