A Car T Boone Pickens Could Be Proud Of

December 1, 2010, 8:25 AM HST
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It wasn’t too long ago that professional investor and alternative energy activist T. Boone Pickens took to American airwaves to tout what was then labeled as “Pickens’ Plan,” an idea that alternative energy and natural gas could replace the United States’ dependence on oil.  Pickens invested his own sum of nearly $60 million to lead the charge for natural gas, a fuel that had in decades previous to his multi-media campaign made him a billionaire.

Today, Pickens is off the airwaves, but he’s still lobbying.  California adopted one of his own ballot initiatives in 2009, and he’s currently investing in one of the largest wind farms in the world.  But his greatest achievement may have come on Monday when the Department of Energy agreed to an additional $50 million in loan capital for a start-up known as The Vehicle Production Group.  The funds will be released from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program which has been a primary financier of start-up Tesla Motors, and even lent money to automotive giants like Nissan and Ford.

The Vehicle Production Group is currently developing a car known as the MV-1, designed to run solely on natural gas, a fuel that is very commonly found in virtually every state in the United States.  Besides the Vehicle Production Group, very few start-ups are pushing for natural gas, instead opting for electric vehicles that have slowly become all the rage among drivers, and car companies.

Traditionally, natural gas powered cars, trucks, and buses were found only in fleets owned for corporate use as the conversion to natural gas was expensive, and only efficient with economies of scale.  Today, as the company car slowly disappears, school and city bus fleets are all the remains from what was once a booming transportation fuel.

The MV-1 is expected to debut for less than $40,000, the price-point at which most new alternative automakers are targeting for their vehicles.  The Department of Energy expects that with the new loan, the Vehicle Production Group will be able to produce just over 22,500 cars and create at least 900 new jobs.

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