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Washington, D.C. - U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today an offer of a nearly $50 million conditional loan commitment to The Vehicle Production Group LLC (VPG). 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.
"This project represents an investment in innovation that will create new jobs, promote the use of alternative fuels, and help our nation maintain its competitive edge in the automotive industry," said Secretary Chu. "It is part of a broad effort to reclaim America's leadership in auto manufacturing - ensuring that our workers are producing the best, most innovative, most efficient vehicles in the world."
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 over 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 ATVM Loan Program supports the development of innovative, advanced technologies that create thousands of clean energy jobs while reducing the nation's dependence on oil. The Department has provided over $8 billion in loans to advanced technology vehicle manufacturers, including Ford Motor Company, Fisker Automotive, Nissan North America and Tesla Motors.