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|Company looks to government for funding|
The success of a new car company's manufacturing facility in Monroe could rest in the hands of the U.S. Department of Energy.
Representatives from V Vehicle revealed Wednesday they have petitioned the federal government for some $340 million in low-interest government loans administered by the Energy Department.
U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander said he will work hand-in-hand with representatives from the new company as well as the other members of Louisiana's congressional delegation to ensure the loan application was successful.
"We've already put the application together, but we didn't want to release the dos or don'ts because of jeopardizing this project," said Alexander, R-Quitman. "Now that the decision has been made to locate here, we will proceed with the plans."
Energy Department loans are administered under a program created last year to improve fuel efficiency in American-made cars.
"I'll get the other members of the Louisiana delegation to work with us to make sure we get through this process and are successful," Alexander said.
That's good news for V Vehicle chairman Ray Lane, a venture capitalist involved in the new company.
Lane said federal loans were "very important" to the success of the venture.
"When you're building a company that takes nearly $500 million to get off the ground, if you can get $300 million worth of non-diluted debt with some minimal equity requirements, that's pretty good," Lane said. "So the government is taking an active role in ensuring we increase our café or fuel efficiency in this country."
The $25-billion Energy Department program has been in place for more than a year, but Lane said none of the major car companies took advantage of it until they started getting into financial trouble.
"Of course General Motors, Chrysler, Ford and other startups have made application for this money," Lane said. "You have to make all their tests, you have to pass their tests to get it."
Lane expressed confidence V Vehicle would succeed in its efforts to obtain the loan.
"We think we have a very, very good chance of getting a lot of funds from this program," Lane said.