Federally Subsidized Maker of 'Clean' Vehicles Closes Doors

Another rousing success for industrial policy


A natural-gas van company awarded a $50 million Energy Department (DOE) loan has suspended operations and laid off roughly 100 workers, according to press accounts.

The closure of Vehicle Production Group (VPG), which builds wheelchair-accessible vans powered by natural gas, will likely increase Republican criticism of Energy loan programs that are already facing heavy Capitol Hill scrutiny.

Former CEO John Walsh told The Detroit Free Press that the Michigan-based company's owners are negotiating a sale. "The people who are interested are close to the company and current partners," he told the paper.

VPG's woes arrive as plug-in hybrid maker Fisker Automotive, which was also supported by the department's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, has collapsed and teeters on bankruptcy.