V-Vehicle: Local Governments Pledge $15M, If Feds Fund Startup

V-Vehicle, the San Diego, Calif.-based auto startup that counts Google Ventures, T. Boone Pickens and venture capitalists at Kleiner Perkins among its backers, won a $15 million victory this week in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana. Local officials in the region (where V-Vehicle aims to build low-cost gas cars with higher-than-average efficiency and a plastic shell) voted on Monday to renew support for V-Vehicle and provide $15 million for the startup’s project — if federal loans come through.

This comes about two months after the secretive company missed a major fund raising deadline that would have triggered the bulk of an incentive package put together by state and local authorities, and nearly six weeks after the startup saw its request for federal funds denied. Since its founding in 2006, V-Vehicle has reportedly raised between $90 million and $100 million from private investors, and it’s now looking to add $100 million in private capital and credit.

As the Monroe News Star and Lincoln Parish News Online report, the Ouachita Parish Police Jury voted 5-0 last night to draft a letter to the Department of Energy showing support for V-Vehicle’s bid for $321.1 million in direct loans under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program. V-Vehicle has been working to address DOE concerns that led to rejection of its initial application under the low-interest loan program (e.g. the startup’s lack of distribution infrastructure and limited funds), and to complete a revised application.

V-Vehicle design sketch

Because the DOE loan office will be looking for local support when it reviews V-Vehicle’s application, the renewed pledge from Ouachita Parish could be worth much more than the $15 million — helping to grease the wheels for funding under the ATVM program (the local funding would come from a property tax approved by voters to help finance the project if Energy Department loans get the green light).

According to the News Star, V-Vehicle asked the Ouachita council, as well as the state economic development department, to send letters of support. And according to a draft of the letter posted on Lincoln Parish News Online, there’s a simple reason to back the project: jobs. Firing up an auto manufacturing plant at a shuttered factory once used to build headlamps for General Motors could have an impact, the letter reads, on “the economic future of Northeast Louisiana and surrounding regions,” that “simply cannot be overstated.”

For more research on electric vehicles check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

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Images courtesy of V-Vehicle and Louisiana Economic Development