The Vehicle Production Group (VPG) may not have become a household name since it set up shop, but if you had any interest in boxy but wheelchair-accessible vehicles, you probably knew the automaker's MV-1 van. That said, the Florida-based company has now, as of this week, shut down.
Despite receiving a $50 million loan from the Department of Energy in 2010, the company has now shuttered its operations. The natural-gas-powered MV-1 – VPG's only model – was being produced in Mishawaka, Indiana by AM General. Yes, that's the same AM General that used to build civilian Hummer models, which helps to explain why the MV-1 actually used a number of interior parts and switches previously found in Hummer vehicles.
It is worth noting, however, that VPG has yet to file for bankruptcy – it has simply suspended production and shuttered its corporate offices after having its reserves frozen by the DOE after its cash level fell below a government-mandated threshold, which was part of the agreement for the loan. The company has just three of its 100 employees left.
According to Automotive News, VPG has already built 2500 vans and raised $400 million in capital, and former VPG CEO John Walsh told AN that the company still has a backlog for 2300 more copies of the handicapable van. That said, Walsh also reported that VPG had drawn the full amount on the DOE loan and yet to begin repaying the government. He also told AN there are two companies within the "automotive sphere" that have shown interest in VPG, "one being a current partner that 'has a lot to do with building the car.'"
It hasn't been an easy spring for Congress on this matter either: VPG follows Fisker as the second automaker to receive funds and miss repayments. That company let 75 percent of its staff go earlier this month and has been under fire for the whole debacle.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)