WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Energy is offering a nearly $50 million conditional loan to the Vehicle Production Group LLC (VPG) to support development of the six-passenger "green option" MV-1, a factory-built wheelchair-accessible vehicle that runs on compressed natural gas.

The vehicle will be produced at the Mishawaka, Ind., AM General Plant.

"This project represents an investment in innovation that will create new jobs, promote the use of alternative fuels, and help our nation maintain its competitive edge in the automotive industry," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. 

As a dedicated compressed natural gas vehicle, the MV-1 will use no gasoline and produce lower emissions than gasoline-fueled vehicles. Vehicle Production Group estimates that at full capacity, the project will produce approximately 22,650 vehicles per year. The project -- factoring in production, part suppliers, sales and marketing -- is expected to create over 900 jobs.

According to Miami-based VPG, the MV-1 is a purpose-built vehicle designed from the ground up for wheelchair accessibility. The MV-1 meets or exceeds all guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The vehicle features a deployable access ramp with a 1,200-pound weight capacity, a 36-inch entryway and an interior that accommodates up to six occupants with the optional jump seat, including a wheelchair passenger and the driver. For more information about the vehicle, click here.

The Department of Energy's Loan Programs Office oversees the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program. The ATVM Loan Program supports development of innovative, advanced technologies that create clean energy jobs while reducing the nation's dependence on oil. The DOE has provided over $8 billion in loans to advanced technology vehicle manufacturers, including Ford Motor Co., Fisker Automotive, Nissan North America and Tesla Motors.