Startup Automaker V-Vehicle Hits Roadblock After Government Rejects $321M Loan Request

Plans by the famed Kleiner Perkins VC firm, Google, T. Boone Pickens, and other investors to launch a new automaker are now hanging by a thread.

The Department of Energy has rebuffed San Diego-based V-Vehicle’s request for more than $321 million in loans—throwing into jeopardy the automaker’s ambitious plans to build an “environmentally friendly” car. When V-Vehicle’s founders and investors announced the company’s plans last June in Monroe, LA, Louisiana economic development officials proclaimed in a press release “New American Car Company Will Make History in Louisiana.”

The Associated Press and other news outlets are reporting the DOE turned aside a $241.2 million loan request to revamp an idle headlight plant in northeastern Louisiana and a related $79.9 million loan to coordinate engineering with V-Vehicle’s suppliers. Today, state and federal officials say they’re trying to find out why.

In a statement released yesterday, V-Vehicle says work began last year in Monroe, LA, under $133 million of state tax credits and incentives, where were targeted for completion in the fall of next year.  The company says its first production prototype of the V Car is in testing, and national sales were projected to begin late next in 2011.

In its statement yesterday, V-Vehicle also revealed more than it previously has about why its vehicle would be “environmentally friendly,” saying, “The V Car’s miles-per-gallon would be among the best of all four-passenger gasoline-powered vehicles sold in … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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