That looming March 1 deadline for V-Vehicle to raise $350 million — the amount that the T. Boone Pickens and Kleiner Perkins-backed startup needed in order to release the bulk of an incentive package put together by state and local authorities in Monroe, La., (or else request an extension) — has passed. According to reports in the Times-Picayune and The Car Connection, V-Vehicle was not able to put together the $350 million and thus has forfeited $87 million in cash and incentives from Louisiana for the company’s planned plant in Monroe.
V-Vehicle boosters, however, maintain that it’s not out of the running for $65 million in state grants and $15 million in local incentives just yet. U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander (R – LA) said Tuesday that he’ll press the Department of Energy to keep V-Vehicle’s $320 million application for a loan under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, the Monroe News-Star reported.
That loan, plus the $90-$100 million the startup is believed to have raised in investment, would put it over the mark needed to secure local and state financing, the Times-Picayune reported. If that happens, the state could possibly amend its contract with V-Vehicle to extend its deadline, Stephen Moret, the state’s economic development secretary, told the newspaper.
Still, missing the deadline isn’t good news for the would-be high-efficiency gasoline-powered car startup. And if the company doesn’t raise the matching funds, it will be mighty embarrassing to have to repay the $6.2 million of the state incentive package that’s already been spent.
Founded in 2006 by former Oracle exec Frank Varasano, V-Vehicle emerged from stealth in June of last year with grand, if rather unclear, promises to revolutionize the auto industry. Besides Kleiner and Pickens, Google Ventures has also backed the company, according to a regulatory filing. The company hasn’t officially said much about its technology, design, financing and commercialization plans — though it has made a lot of noise about the 1,400 or so jobs it expects its factory to create if it’s built.
Of course, other automaker startups have seen setbacks in the massive financing needed to build factories to make cars, only to pull it out in the clutch, so to speak — just look at Tesla Motors. At least for now, the definition of the term “deadline” might be flexible for V-Vehicle. No doubt its backers in Silicon Valley, Louisiana and Texas are hoping that’s the case.
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