The US Department of Energy gave a $50 million conditional loan to the Vehicle Production Group LLC to build a new vehicle specifically designed for wheelchair users.
The MV-1, which is designed for individual wheelchair users and fleets, will feature a Ford 4.6-liter V-8 engine and will run on either gasoline or compressed natural gas. David Schembri is the head of VPG, a unit of private equity firm Perseus LLC and headquartered in Miami, Fla.
Schembri was previously president of Smart USA. In a statement last Monday, Schembri said that with this loan, the Department of Energy shows that it is confident in its program and its impact in making clean-burning, natural gas vehicles make up a significant portion of US light duty fleets.
Because the business plan is confidential, the Energy Department did not reveal the requirements for the loan.
According to a spokesman, these loans can require additional capital to be raised by recipients, formal supply contracts with vendors or customers, or other requirements.
VPG is planning to build over 24,000 vehicles annually under a contract with AM General in Mishawaka, Ind. The MV-1 is set to start production late in the first quarter of 2011. Over 900 workers will be involved in the project. The MV-1 is set to have more than 70% domestic content. [via autonews - sub. required]