If it sounds too good to be true…
Remember that video that made the rounds on Facebook about a Chinese idea for a futuristic mass transit?
China’s dreams for a sky bus mass transit solution have come to a grinding halt amidst a police investigation into illegal fundraising.
Shock and awe
Last year, a Chinese company wowed the world at Beijing’s International High-Tech Expo by unveiling a 300 passenger, electric-powered bus designed to “straddle” multiple lanes of traffic.
The bus was to be elevated above regular highways, gliding along tracks and allowing cars to pass underneath.
The design was billed as an answer to terrible traffic congestion in Chinese cities, and as a strategy to reduce air pollution.
Good in theory
The bus, known as TEB-1, which stands for Transit Elevated Bus, had its first test drive last August. But now the showroom is closed, the factory is quiet and overgrown with weeds, and TEB-1’s maker, TEB Technology Development, is facing a lot of angry investors and possible criminal charges.
The company had raised the equivalent of $1.3 billion.
They had raised that money using an online financing platform called Huaying Kailai, despite the fact that the platform had already been blacklisted in 2015 for illegal finance activities. Investors were told that the company already had working contracts with multiple municipal governments, and were promised a 12 percent return.
The TEB-1 plot thickens
It turns out that the company lied about its government contracts, with the cities of Qinhuangdao and Beidaihe saying that they had only “skeleton agreements” – nothing official – with the company.
Qinhuangdao, where the test run took place last year, has announced that they intend to remove TEB-1’s tracks by the end of this month.
Thirty Huaying Kailai executives are being held by the police as part of an investigation into the illegal fundraising. Seventy-two individual investors have sued the financing platform and the CEO of TEB Technology Development, Bai Zhiming, who also owns Huaying Kailai. Police are attempting to recover invested monies, and are encouraging anyone who invested in TEB to contact them.
… it is too good to be true
It’s a disappointing ending to what could have been a great innovation.
Unfortunately, transportation experts have raised serious questions about the feasibility and safety of TEB-1, adding to the suspicions that the entire scheme was nothing more than a money making hoax.