New Louisiana Plant: "Another Icon of American Industry"

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

That’s the early word on V-Vehicle Company, which will occupy the former Guide Corp. plant in Monroe, LA. In addition to Silicon Valley VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Automotive News [sub] reports that Texas natural gas baron T. Boone Pickens is also providing financial backing to the new company which “will produce a high-quality, environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient car for the U.S. market,” according to a statement. “The goal of the company is to provide the American buyer greater product value and a superior automotive experience.”

This might be easily dismissed if the firm’s technical staff weren’t led by former Mazda design chief Tom Matano, designer of the original Miata. Matano’s assessment of the project is that “this car will be another icon of American industry.” Watch a video on the new venture at the Louisiana Economic Development website. The talk of “re-imagining the car company” and “iconic automobile” rhetoric sound a lot like the Gordon Murray T.25 project, but the Pickens investment points to a natural gas powertrain.

Needless to say, we’ll be watching this start-up with considerable interest.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Pnnyj Pnnyj on Jun 17, 2009

    It never ceases to amaze me how many different people that have taken credit for designing the original Miata. I didn't think that Mazda ever had that many employees, period, let alone having that many assigned to the Miata design team. For the record, the original Miata was designed and engineered by a very small team, some of whom worked lots of unpaid overtime and on weekends because they really wanted the car to be a success and make it into production. The Pontiac Aztek design team on the other hand was much larger, though they all seem to have disappeared into the witness protection program. Absolutely nothing that I've read about this new auto venture suggests that it could possibly be a success on its own economic merits. It smells to me like a government subsidy magnet. The financial engineering will undoubtedly be much more advanced than whatever product they ever end up building.

  • FrustratedConsumer FrustratedConsumer on Jun 17, 2009

    "Absolutely nothing that I’ve read about this new auto venture suggests that it could possibly be a success on its own economic merits. It smells to me like a government subsidy magnet." Which is no different than every single military contract over the last two decades - billions for helicopters we don't need while the troops build their own armor from scrap. At least some of us may actually get to use the fruits of this subsidy.

  • Slumba Slumba on Jun 17, 2009

    Actually you can produce a lot of natural gas by shooting steam through powdered coal. In such cases it is called "town gas" or "producer gas" and usually needs to go through another step to clean it up, it is more toxic than regular NG and is odorless, so more dangerous to humans.

  • Cpmanx Cpmanx on Jun 18, 2009

    The track record of industry outsiders trying to reinvent the car is terrible. But hey, if T. Boone wants to give it a try, why not? It's his money to burn, and we the consumers get to watch and decide if we are interested in what he's selling. At the very least it will be good theater, and if this venture fails at least a bunch of laid-off workers will have gotten a temporary reprieve.