One less innovative electric vehicle to worry about

Occasionally my inbox has some interesting contents. Today, for example, I found the following release:

XP Vehicles Extremely Disappointed in DOE Rejection of ATVM Application

(San Francisco, CA) – XP Vehicles, Inc., a California-based electric car company, was notified by the U.S. Department of Energy that their Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program application had been rejected.

This is extremely frustrating as we submitted this application almost ten months ago and not once did DOE ask any of our engineers, the founder or our project leads for additional or clarifying information.

While other car companies and suppliers were going out of business left and right, XP managed to survive without outside funding for 10 months longer than it was told it would need to. The original Section 136 funds were set to be released last December for GM, Chrysler and Ford. XP covered its costs without outside support even though GM and Chrysler were removed from the program because "they were not financially viable" according to the DOE.

What is even more frustrating is that one of the main reasons they gave us for the rejection was the fact that our vehicles do not use E85 gasoline and that we are not making millions of cars. While it is true that XP does not wish to use carcinogenic gasoline, XP is fully willing to produce millions of vehicles if provided with the appropriate funding as it has quantified millions of buyers for its vehicles. Additionally XP was told that it was not planing to sell enough cars to the government which is 100% false as the core sales plan of the company is based on government and commercial fleet sales. Additionally XP was told that electric motors and batteries were considered by the reviewers to be too futuristic of a technology and not developed for commercial use even though they have been in use in over 40 industries for over 20 years. Almost every other part of the XP car was to be purchased from existing commercial sources with multiple points of supply, so it is not possible to see how a reviewer might think the vehicle had any significant technical acquisition hurdles.

The primary purpose of this loan program, XP was told by its authors, was to develop advanced technology and further reduce our dependence on gasoline. The XP Vehicles car uses no gasoline and gets over 125 miles per battery charge.

XP was also told that it's factory cost was too low because the metal body fabrication systems were not calculated high enough but the reviwers apparently did not even pay attention to the fact that XP uses no metal fabrication in it's body.

It is well known that a DOE funding cannot be surpassed in terms by any current bank or investor in this economy. That is why XP Vehicles and several other advanced technology electric car companies were the first to apply for these loans which the major car companies were not able to do. However, the rules were changed midway through the process to allow these late entrants. Now XP Vehicles has learned that almost all the federal money is going to “Detroit” companies or companies closely aligned with Detroit.

While XP has absolutely no problem with funding going to our traditional automotive industry, XP cannot believe that no funding will be given to small, advanced technology companies trying to move us even further from our dependence on oil. After all, isn't that what President Obama intended with his energy independence program and support for high technology companies?

XP Vehicles has asked its many thousands of supporters and interested stakeholders to contact their legislators to ask for your some help with DOE. “While we have no idea whether the Department will respond to congressional inquiries, we just have no other options left in obtaining some financial help from the federal government,” stated Janet Kopenhaver, Washington Lobbyist for XP Vehicles. “We had put a grassroots letter-writing campaign off because we were getting assurances from DOE that everything was in order with our application, but circumstances now leave us no choice but to move ahead,” added Kopenhaver. XP has requested Freedom of Information Act disclosure of the application dates of the other applicants, review and opportunity to refute the rejection points based on no interaction with the company engineers or project leads and FOIA disclosure of the other application merits, all of which have so far been denied by the DOE review group.

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Lee Teschler

Leland serves as Editor-in-Chief of Machine Design. He has 34 years of Service and holds a B.S. Engineering from the University of Michigan, a B.S. Electrical Engineering from the University of...
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