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Company testing 'V-Vehicle'

MONROE, La. — The company that hopes to build a new car — the “V-Vehicle” — in North Louisiana says it is testing its product.

V-Vehicle Co. won’t say where, or reveal any details, according to The News-Star.

David Hitchcock, V-Vehicle’s director of Louisiana assembly operations, said the company hasn’t released details for competitive reasons.

The company, which has raised about $100 million in private capital and received an $87-million grant package that includes federal state and local money, continues to await word on $320 million from a federal loan program designed to assist green auto manufacturers.

V-Vehicle must raise $350 million in capital by March 1 to trigger the bulk of the $87-million grant package or ask for an extension.

Hitchcock wouldn’t say where the company is testing its vehicle, though it’s not being conducted at the company’s Ouachita Parish plant, which is being expanded with a beginning production goal of 2011.

He said the company hasn’t released details of the car or the testing because of competitive reasons.

Investors have said the car will be a gasoline-powered vehicle that will get 40-plus miles per gallon and cost about $10,000.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program approved $8 billion in loans last June, but approvals have slowed to a snail’s pace since then. The biggest application of $250 million is for manufacturing. The other $70 million is for engineering.

“We’re still awaiting word, but all of the indications are positive,” Hitchcock said.

“There’s no reason to believe we won’t be successful,” V-Vehicle spokesman Joe Fisher said in a recent interview with The News-Star.

Meanwhile, Hitchcock said work continues at the plant

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