DOE offers Vehicle Production Group nearly $50M conditional loan commitment for development of CNG-fueled wheelchair-accessible car
US Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced an offer of a nearly $50 million conditional loan commitment to The Vehicle Production Group LLC (VPG). (Earlier post.) The conditional loan commitment will support the development of the six-passenger MV-1, a factory-built wheelchair accessible vehicle that will run on compressed natural gas. The vehicle will be produced at the Mishawaka, Indiana AM General Plant.
As a dedicated compressed natural gas vehicle, the MV-1 will use no gasoline and produce lower emissions than gasoline-fueled vehicles. Vehicle Production Group estimates that at full capacity, the project will produce approximately 22,650 vehicles per year. Between production, part suppliers, sales and marketing, the project is expected to create more than 900 jobs.
According to VPG, a new American car company based in Miami, Florida, the MV-1 is the only purpose-built vehicle that was designed from the ground up for wheelchair accessibility. The company also states that MV-1 is the only light-duty vehicle to date that meets or exceeds the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The vehicle features a deployable access ramp with a 1,200-pound weight capacity, a 36-inch entryway and an interior that accommodates up to six occupants with the optional jump seat, including a wheelchair passenger and the driver.
The Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office oversees the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program. The Department has provided more than $8 billion in loans to advanced technology vehicle manufacturers, including Ford Motor Company, Fisker Automotive, Nissan North America and Tesla Motors.