In midst of auto crisis, Al Gore backs a new car company in Louisiana

Al GoreIn the midst of the worst automotive industry crisis in a generation, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is announcing today that a new car company will build an almost one million square-foot plant in Monroe, in the northern part of the state. The company, identity to be revealed, is rumored to be planning to produce high-mileage, gas-powered automobiles.

Funding will come at least in part from venture capital company Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and readers might recognize another name that recently joined the company as a partner: Al Gore. KPCB, which has formed an alliance with Gore's Generation Investment Management, specializes in green and cutting-edge tech investments. Looking at the partners, I would expect that the tech behind this new company must be a breakthrough; otherwise, why would it back a car that does not use electricity, fuel cells, or a hybrid system?

KPCB is already in the car business as a major investor in Fisker Automobile. Fisker is preparing to bring the Karma to market, a top-end hybrid sports car that could get up to 100 mpg running on a hybrid system. The car will retail for $87,900 and top out at 95 mph -- not very spirited for someone who feels the need for speed, but perfect for someone who wants to send the message that they are green, rich and mellow.

Local officials expect the new Louisiana plant to produce up to 1,500 jobs averaging $40,000 per. One official suggested it could have a $20 billion impact on the local economy over the next 15 years.

Louisiana is said to have tapped a considerable portion of its economic development war chest to lure the new company, while the local U.S. Rep Rodney Alexander is busy in Washington pursuing federal funds. Construction of the facility is expected to take at least 15 months.

Update: Gov. Jindal has announced that the car company is V-Vehicle Company (VVC), headquartered in San Diego.


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