Google Ventures Emerges as Investor in San Diego’s V-Vehicle Co.

8/5/09Follow @bvbigelow

Google Ventures has joined Silicon Valley’s Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as an investor in V-Vehicle Co., the San Diego-based startup automaker developing a new line of fuel-efficient cars. The company plans to build its cars in northeastern Louisiana.

Joe Fisher, a New York spokesman for the San Diego startup automaker, confirmed the corporate venture fund’s investment, which was not previously disclosed. The clue was in a recent regulatory filing, which lists David Drummond as a member of V-Vehicle’s board of directors. Fisher confirms he’s David C. Drummond, Google’s senior vice president for corporate development and chief legal officer. But the spokesman declined to say how much Google has invested.

V-Vehicle’s regulatory filing shows the green automotive startup has raised almost $62.26 million in venture funding, and plans to raise an additional $4 million in the current round. When V-Vehicle made its debut at a news conference with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal about six weeks earlier, press reports indicated that Frank Varasano, the former Oracle executive who is the automaker’s founding CEO, already had lined up $100 million in venture funding.

At the time, the company said its prominent investors included Silicon Valley VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and T. Boone Pickens, the Texas energy maverick. Two Kleiner Perkins partners, John Doerr and Ray Lane, also have seats on the company’s board. But Pickens investment, if he’s made one, is not apparent in the filing. The filing lists V-Vehicle’s directors as Varasano, Lane, Doerr, and Drummond.

The VC funding qualifies V-Vehicle to a portion—about $10 million—out of an anticipated total of $67 million in Louisiana state economic development funds. The company plans to begin renovation next year of a shuttered auto parts factory in Monroe, LA, where it plans to assemble its “green” car. James Davison, a Ruston, LA, trucking magnate who owns the property, also was identified in June as an investor.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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