VPG MV-1Enlarge Photo
At an April Congressional hearing titled "Green Energy Oversight: Examining the Department of Energy's Bad Bet on Fisker Automotive," Rep. Jim Jordan (R) of Ohio called the DOE loan program "one of the most disastrously mismanaged and corrupt programs in U.S. history."
Walsh is clearly annoyed by comparisons of VPG with the electric automaker.
"Fisker is an electric sports car," he said. "Who needs an electric sports car, other than Justin Bieber?"
"There is a need for what we build, and not a need for an electric sports car," he added.
The Lost Promise Of VPG Autos
Most vehicles for wheelchair users are conversion vans: regular vans retrofitted to accommodate disabled users. In contrast, VPG's MV-1 is designed from the ground up to be a mobility van, which makes it more durable, reliable, and cheaper, Walsh said.
All VPG needed was an extension until April to get production going again and start delivering cars it had taken orders for, said Walsh, adding that paying back the DOE "wasn't going to be a problem."
In an email to Business Insider, a DOE spokesperson defended the track record of the ATVM loan program:
Our losses are on track to be a small fraction of the loan loss reserve Congress established to cover expected losses, and we are helping valuable new technologies gain a toehold so that America can win the global race for clean energy jobs.
While he believes the DOE was overcautious in handling VPG's loan, Walsh said he did not regret accepting the federal funds.
"I don't think you should ever sit back and regret anyone that's giving you assistance," he said. "It was an excellent investment. It just needed a little bit more time."
This article, written by Alex Davies, was originally published on Business Insider, an editorial partner of Green Car Reports and High Gear Media.