The Vehicle Production Group (VPG) has entered into an approximately $50m conditional loan commitment with the US Department of Energy (DOE) under its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program.

VPG will use the DOE funds to enter into full production of the CNG version of the MV-1 vehicle, which is expected to begin late in the first quarter of 2011.

VPG CEO David Schembri said that MV-1 will help to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and substantially reduce light-duty fleet emissions and costs, while at the same time increasing the quality of life for millions of Americans with physical disabilities.

The company said that MV-1 is designed from the ground up to meet the needs of people in wheelchairs as well as for the demanding duty cycles of fleet operators.

The MV-1 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 either one or two wheelchair passengers and the driver.

The vehicle will be available with a factory-installed Ford 4.6L V8 engine, configured either for gasoline or compressed natural gas fuel.

VPG estimates that the company will manufacture at least 24,000 vehicles per year and over 900 workers will be involved in the project.