This whole automaker shutting down thing is starting to get old. First, it was Fisker Automotive, which technically still exists as it struggles to find a new owner. Then, it was Coda Electric, an automaker that actually thought people would spend nearly $40,000 on a Chinese-built 1990s Mitsubishi with an electric motor in it.
Now the Vehicle Production Group is undergoing the same issue. Vehicle Production Who, you ask?
Receiving $50 million from the same Department of Energy loan program that fellow startups Tesla and Fisker participated in, VPG has halted production on its MV-1 and laid off all but three of its 100 employees. Unlike Fisker, it didn’t leave taxpayers on the hook, paying down its loans.
Despite a face only a blind mother could love, it’s a practical, purpose-built vehicle that is designed to give paralyzed passengers a pleasant place to be. Powered by a 4.6-liter V-8 sourced from Ford that can run on gas or natural gas, the VPG MV-1 was built in Indiana by AM General under contract. You may know that company that makes the Humvee for the military and has made post office delivery trucks in decades past.
Former CEO of VPG John Walsh says that the company wasn’t running deep into the red like Coda or Fisker; it simply ran out of money. It has 2,300 orders it cannot fill, along with 2,500 MV-1 vans that are already on the road. Walsh said that while he’s halting operations, another company in the automotive sphere which VPG already deals with could be stepping in to buy its assets. Perhaps AM General?
Walsh confirmed that VPG hasn’t built a single MV-1 this year and that in falling below the government threshold of money, halting production, he figured that it was the right thing to do to shutter operations.
“Many people were going to continue to work there but not be paid, and I couldn’t sleep at night having that happen. It was the best financial decision to suspend the business,” Walsh said in an interview with Automotive News.
The VPG MV-1 catered to a desperately underserved market that has to deal with loud, squeak-prone converted minivans that we can imagine are a bit like punishment for those who have to ride around in them. While a bit of a niche vehicle, we hope it sticks around after the dust settles so handicapped passengers can have the quality ride they deserve.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)