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T. Boone Pickens, Kleiner Perkins Back Upstart U.S. Automaker V-Vehicle

VC powerhouse Kleiner Perkins and Texas oilman T. Boon Pickens, two outspoken advocates of green transit technology, have teamed up to provide V-Vehicle Company $100 million to bring a "high quality, environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient car" to market in the U.S.  Though details on the product itself are vague, the company’s choice of the descriptor "fuel-efficient" suggest it will be a highly-economical internal-combustion automobile.

As collaborations go, this one seems philosophically simpatico at the very least. San Diego-based VVC is looking to shake up the model for car manufacturing in the U.S. Kleiner Perkins principals John Doerr and Ray Lane are already in the electric car business, having backed Fisker Automotive, maker of the all-electric Fisker Karma sports car. T. Boone Pickens, who made his fortune in the energy sector, has roundly criticized America’s dependence on foreign oil. His Pickens Plan, for which he has stumped relentlessly to all who will listen, calls for shifting to more efficient vehicles that run on natural gas.

The company is planning to assemble the cars at a retooled plant in Monroe, La., employing 1,400 workers that the state will help pay to retrain. The state is also kicking in $67 million for the project’s implementation, and VVC is hoping the federal government will grant it some funds from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program. The $100 million from KP and Pickens, while large, is not yet enough to fulfill VVC’s $400 million ambitions, but if the rest of the cash comes through, the company could be within reach of jump-starting the flagging American auto industry.

"The thing that excites me the most about V-Vehicle Company is that it is a holistic change," KP’s Lane said in a press release. "We're thinking about, from beginning to end, how to reconstruct a car company." A privately-owned American car company making smart, fuel-efficient vehicles that consumers might actually be inclined to buy; it’s a refreshing thought.

Photo from V-Vehicles’s promo video

[via earth2tech, LED]


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