Vehicle Production Group LLC (VPG), manufacturer of the MV-1 handicap-accessible compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle, has stopped production and laid off its 100-employee workforce, The Detroit News reports.
The standard engine in the MV-1 is a gasoline-powered Ford 4.6-liter V8, but the CNG version of the vehicle had been a popular option, representing about a quarter of the company's production. The six-passenger van was one of the few factory-direct OEM CNG vehicles in the light-duty segment.
In 2011, VPG received a $50 million loan through the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program. At the time, both the DOE and VPG were anticipating production of the CNG MV-1 to exceed 20,000 units annually, but only about 2,500 have been built to date.
Although production of the MV-1 is quiet today, former CEO John Walsh has gone on the record noting that there is a backlog of orders for the vehicle among VPG's 80-plus dealerships, and he anticipates that a buyer of the company will emerge.