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Vaporware

April 16th, 2010 admin Comments off

It’s been about 10 months now since I blogged about the V-Vehicle Company and their plans to turn an abandoned headlight factory in Louisiana into a manufacturing facility for a new, compact, efficient, inexpensive, American-made vehicle.  At the time, they planned to start production of their mystery-vehicle in about 17 months.  That’s 7 months from now.

Since then, they’ve failed to secure a DOE loan, and recently announced a change in command (as reported by earth2tech).  And still, there’s no sign of anything actually being produced by this “company” anytime soon.  They’ve got a lot to do in 7 months…

Lately, there’s been chatter about another company with plans to bring prosperity to the folks in the deep south.  HK Motors, a China-based car company with plans for compressed-natural-gas-fueled hybrid vehicles (with a small gasoline tank back-up – you know, in case you can’t find a CNG station anywhere), intends to build a manufacturing facility in Bay Minette, Alabama.  The manufacturing campus is projected to cost around $4.3B, with an annual output of 300,000 SUVs, passenger cars, and trucks by 2013, eventually employing 5,800 people to build a million cars annually by 2018.  …Wow, that’s about 10% of the U.S.’s current new car market…

Unlike VVC, HK actually has a website.  And some prototype vehicles.  And some sketches of a manufacturing facility.  But I have to look at the description of their technology with a critical eye.  It reads a little too much like an infomercial to be believable. And, cynically, the Chinese auto industry’s strength has not been in developing next-generation advanced vehicle technologies, as much as it has been in copying technology from other manufacturers and figuring out how to manufacture it more cheaply.  From my point of view, HK’s grand plans just seem a little too … grand.

We’ll have to wait and see if HK … or VVC … ever delivers anything besides vaporware.

Categories: Auto Companies Tags: , ,

VVC (Very, Very Coy)

July 17th, 2009 admin Comments off

About a month ago, the V-Vehicle Company (VVC) burst onto the auto scene, announcing plans to set up shop in an abandoned Guide headlight plant in Monroe, Louisiana.  Their stated intention is to be “a new American car company that will produce a high-quality and fuel-efficient car for the U.S. market.”  They raised some eyebrows, probably because of their high-profile investors Kleiner Perkins and T. Boone Pickens (hey, what about his wind project?), and also because of their director of design, Tom Matano, who was the stylistic mind that created the iconic Mazda Miata.  Bringing jobs to a depressed region in America, building a new efficient American car, having all the right people in place – all sounds great, right?

It’s been a month since VVC came out from under the radar, and it seems like they’ve now faded back into secrecy.  Other than a fancy video from Louisiana Economic Development with some teaser images (and a rumor that the vehicle’s price-tag will be about $10k), there’s not much info to be had about the car that VVC plans to begin producing in about a year and a half.  I’m very curious as to why they chose last month to say, “HI, LOOK AT US!” without continuing to stoke the excitement.  (I wonder, might they be requesting DOE loans under the ATVMP?)  And what about this rumored $10k price tag, if it is true?  At that price, it certainly won’t be an electrified vehicle, like so many others that are currently under development.  (I wonder, could it have a natural gas-fueled powertrain, given that T. Boone is on board?)

I wish them luck, and they’ve definitely got my interested piqued.  But 18 17 months isn’t that far away, and Bobby Jindal‘s inspiring words at the end of the video won’t sustain me that long!

VVC teaser