T. Boone Pickens' grand green energy plans have been shaken up once again—this time with a new name (Next Autoworks) and a new CEO (Kathleen Ligocki) for V-Vehicle, a Google, Kleiner Perkins, and Pickens-backed vehicle startup.
Next Autoworks has struggled in recent months. In March, the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program rejected its request for $321.1 million in federal loans—a move that crushed startup's plan to employ over 1,400 people directly at its planned Monroe, Louisiana plant.
But Next Autoworks isn't giving up. Ligocki should help; the newly appointed CEO previously served as CEO of Tower Automotive (a structural component designer) and GS Motors and served as Director of Business Strategy at Ford. Ligocki replaces interim CEO Ray Lane—a Managing Partner at Kleiner Perkins and former CEO of Oracle.
The new name is supposed to reflect Next Autoworks' plans to produce a number of vehicle models—not just the upcoming V-Car. The auto company still hasn't revealed to the public what the V-Car looks like, or how it performs under the hood. We do know that the fuel-efficient, gas-powered vehicle's design was led by former Mazda designer Tom Motano. And the company has said that the plastic shell-covered car features recyclable, off-the-shelf parts to keep production costs low. A few superficial specs have also been released—the five-door hatchback is as wide as a BMW 5-series (73 inches) and as long as a Toyota Corolla (179 inches).
Next Autoworks is still fine-tuning the vehicle's design, but Ligocki is working on a retail distribution plan, which should be ready in the next two months, according to GigaOm. The company already has between $90 million and $100 million in funding from private investors—and Ligocki is on a mission to double that amount. Next Autoworks has also submitted a revised application to the ATVM loan program.
If Ligocki can get Next Autoworks's act together, the company might just have a car for sale in the next year or two. We'll be watching.