| DETROIT, Sept 5
DETROIT, Sept 5 The U.S. Department of Energy
recovered only about one-sixth of its $50 million
green-technology loan to Vehicle Production Group LLC, a maker
of wheelchair-accessible vans now under new ownership.
AM General, which makes Humvee transports for the U.S.
military, said on Thursday that it gained control of VPG after
buying the federal loan extended to that company in March 2011.
The loan was provided under an Obama administration program
designed to promote advanced vehicles. Republican lawmakers have
blasted the DOE for its handling of the program, while the DOE
said losses represent a small fraction of its portfolio.
The DOE recovered $8 million from VPG, including $5 million
seized from the company's accounts in April. The DOE put its VPG
loan up for auction last month and collected $3 million from the
"After exhausting any realistic possibility for a sale that
might have protected our entire investment, the Department
determined that auctioning the remainder of VPG's loan
obligation offered the best possible recovery for the taxpayer,"
DOE spokesman Bill Gibbons said.
VPG struggled to meet its performance targets and shut down
this year. AM General had been building VPG's six-passenger MV-1
van, which runs on compressed natural gas.
AM General will now own and operate the MV-1 business. The
South Bend, Indiana-based company plans to resume production,
sales and product development of the MV-1 in 45 days.
After buying the DOE loan, AM General is now a senior lender
to VPG and will use that position to restructure VPG's assets,
AM General spokesman Jeff Adams said.
"This is not a bankruptcy proceeding," Adams said. "We are
the secured lender and we will use that position to own the
assets necessary to revitalize the business."
Four other companies received funding from the Advanced
Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program, including Fisker
Automotive, Ford Motor Co, Nissan Motor Co Ltd
and Tesla Motors Inc.