Waitaminnit—San Diego is the Headquarters of America’s Latest Green Auto Startup?
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press account assumed the V-Vehicle is an electric car. But the investors also include Texas energy maverick T. Boone Pickens, who has called for a nationwide shift to natural gas as a transportation fuel as part of his Pickens Energy Plan. Perhaps V-Vehicle will instead be powered by natural gas?
Lane and Kleiner managing partner John Doerr reportedly have raised $100 million to fund the company so far. Aside from Pickens, the group of private investors includes James Davison, a Ruston, LA, trucking magnate who owns the shuttered automotive headlamp manufacturing plant in Northeastern Louisiana that V-Vehicle plans to expand and renovate, with construction set to begin later this year.
Louisiana Gov. Jindal says the state provided about $67 million in incentives, which includes $12 million in workforce training. V-Vehicle is also applying for engineering and manufacturing loans under the U.S. Department of Energy’s $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program, which Congress established in 2007 to spur innovation in automobile technology. Lane told reporters the company’s goal is to raise $400 million to $500 million in capital through equity and loans.
In the end, V-Vehicle’s greenness may be less relevant than the fact that the San Diego-based automaker is unencumbered by the institutional baggage, including the workforce pension and healthcare commitments, carried by the Big Three U.S. automakers. V-Vehicle’s chairman Lane alluded to that in a statement, saying, “The thing that excites me the most about V-Vehicle Company is that it is a holistic change. We’re thinking about, from beginning to end, how to reconstruct a car company. The V-Vehicle Company has the opportunity to change the automotive business in the United States.”