The builders of the original military and civilian Hummers, AM General, has shown little interest in alternative fuels before, but the military contractor has just acquired the Vehicle Production Group, makers of the MV-1 CNG-powered taxi. The price AM General paid is chump change, but it might give the CNG tax maker a second chance at life.
VPG received $50 million as part of the ATVM loan program, to build wheelchair-accessible natural gas-powered taxis, drawing down all $50 million from the loan before shutting its doors earlier this year. The government recouped $5 million found in a reserve account, and another $3 million from the sale to AM General.
Yes, you read that right; a company that received $50 million from U.S. taxpayers was sold to a private interest for a scant $3 million. And not just any private interest, but the makers of one of the least-green vehicles ever conceived.
But it might not be so bad. AM General has formed a new company, Mobility Ventures, and intends to resume and continue production of VPG’s MV-1 taxi. VPG had built 2,500 taxis before shutting its doors, with orders for many more. Despite taxpayers losing out on a total of $42 million, this might be the best-case scenario for the continued existence of these innovative taxicabs. And despite the very public failures of VPG and Fisker Automotive, the green loan program is open for business once again.
Still, selling VPG to Am General seems like an appropriate use of the term “ironic.”
Source: Associated Press