New Auto Manufacturing Plant for Louisiana

According to a
posting on the Louisiana Economic Development website, a new auto company
backed by billionaire businessman T. Boone Pickens will soon be turning out “high-quality,
environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient” cars for the domestic market. The
plan involves relocating some 1,400 workers of V-Vehicle Corporation of San
Diego to an idle General Motors plant located in Monroe, Louisiana.

State and local
officials have put together a $67 million incentive package to fund the
renovation and expansion of the facilities that most recently housed the auto
lighting supplier Guide Corporation until their demise in January of 2007. Situated
on 198 acres, the renovated manufacturing facilities will be expanded from
425,000 square feet to approximately 750,000 square feet and future capital
investments include an expected $5 million in rail and infrastructure funding
from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. V-VC
has also applied for additional government funding under the Advanced
Technology Manufacturing Loan Program.

A study
conducted by Louisiana State University predicts the venture will lead to the
creation of some 1,800 new jobs indirectly related to V-VC’s operations. Workers
at the new facility will be paid average annual salaries of $40,000 according
to V-VC’s founder and CEO, Frank Varasano, who is a
former Executive VP with Oracle Corporation and whose credentials also include
26 years with the consulting firm of Booz Allen Hamilton.

Joining Pickens
in the venture will be the Silicon Valley venture capital firm of Kleiner
Perkins Caulfield & Byers and James Davison of Ruston, La., who is the
current owner of the plant. Other high profile players will include Kleiner
Perkins managing partners, Ray Lane who will serve as V-VC’s chairman and John
Doerr who will serve on the board. Horst Metz, a 20-year veteran with Booz
Allen will serve as VP of Assembly Operations.

Former Mazda
Chief Designer, Tom Matano, whose 19-year tenure with the Japanese auto maker
included the design of the classic Miata roadster, has been tapped to design a
car which, in his words, “will be another icon of American industry.” Since
leaving Mazda in 2002, Matano has been serving as Director of Industrial Design
at the San Francisco Academy of Art University.

The article
stated that V-Vehicle Corporation’s goal is to “provide the American buyer
greater product value and a superior automotive experience,” and Varasano was quoted
as saying that production at the revamped facilities could begin in as little as 15 months.

Posted in In the News

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