By Mike Levine on June 16, 2009
A new car company with backing from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins and billionaire investor T. Boone Pickens intends to manufacture fuel-efficient cars in Louisiana, at the site of a closed General Motors auto supplier's plant. V-Vehicle Company said it will approximately double the size of the facility and hire more than 1,400 workers to produce a "high-quality, environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient car for the U.S. market," according to a press release issued this morning.
That's about all the information the company is willing to release at this time, though there's speculation the car will be powered only by gasoline and that it won't be a hybrid, full-electric or other alternative-powered vehicle.
"We're not prepared to talk about the product yet," VVC spokesman Joe Fisher told Cars.com this afternoon. "But V-Vehicle believes the new car will reconstruct the entire automobile [manufacturing and sales] process from beginning to end to provide extra value to customers."
Fisher says the "V" in V-Vehicle Company stood for value when the company was founded in 2006 by CEO Frank Varasano. Varasano graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy before serving as a nuclear engineer aboard atomic submarines. After serving in the U.S. Navy, Varasano got an MBA from Harvard.
The company has been operating in stealth development mode for the past two years since receiving venture funding from Kleiner Perkins and other investors.
Former Mazda designer Tom Matano, who helped design the Miata, is heading up VVC's vehicle design department.
Asked why the company chose to build cars in the U.S. instead of another country, where labor rates might be lower, Fisher said he wanted his company to be an American one.
"Varasano believes in the American sense of ingenuity," he said. "This is an American car company building a product for American consumers. It only makes sense to build it in a place like Louisiana."