Louisiana offered up a hefty incentive package in order to bring the Kleiner Perkins and T. Boone Pickens-backed auto startup V-Vehicle Company to the state. And over the next few weeks, businesses in the state will be racing to secure some of the direct benefits of that move.
According to the latest report on the company from the local Monroe News-Star, V-Vehicle is now on the hunt for machine, service and auto component suppliers. It’s giving preference to Louisiana companies, which have until Nov. 23 to submit an application. Within a week of that deadline, V-Vehicle will make the first cut and invite a group of suppliers to interview. By then the startup expects to have word from the Department of Energy on its request for $250 million in low-interest loans.
V-Vehicle has discussed few details so far regarding the vehicle technology itself, revealing only that it plans to build a high-efficiency gas-powered vehicle. Pickens, ever the natural gas promoter, told reporters in June at an event in Calgary that the company was looking at natural gas at that point and could opt for it “if it works out.”
The types of suppliers V-Vehicle is now seeking as it looks to retool a former head lamp factory don’t offer much more insight. According to the News-Star, V-Vehicle hopes to find suppliers of components including metal forming, injection molding, powder/corrosion coating, tubing and hose manufacturers. For equipment, it’s looking specifically for things like control panel builders, electrical and IT infrastructure and industrial rigging.
As we’ve noted before, V-Vehicle seems to be more than a pure technology play. The startup aims to deliver a better-designed, more efficient American-made car with an approach that represents “a holistic change” (as Kleiner’s Ray Lane put it in V-Vehicle’s promotional video this summer) from the current U.S. auto industry. The supply base for that company may be taking shape now, but we’ll have to see what comes down from the DOE to get a better idea of how far, and how fast those companies can deliver that transformation with V-Vehicle.