Handicap-friendly vehicle again being produced in Mishawaka

    A Mishawaka plant began producing the MV-1 again after a two-year gap. It's the only U.S.-built vehicle that meets or exceeds the Americans with Disabilities Act's guidelines.

    Posted on March 11, 2014 at 5:44 p.m.

    MISHAWAKA -- After being stuck in traffic since the summer of 2012, the MV-1 finally has a green light to move forward.

    AM General will mark the official start of production with a media event at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 11, at its Commercial Assembly Plant.

    About 200 workers -- including salaried employees -- already have been called back to work to get the line up and running.

    The MV-1 is the only U.S.-built vehicle for handicapped individuals that meets or exceeds the guidelines of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

    The vehicle, which was selling for about $40,000 when it was last produced in 2012, features a deployable access ramp with a 1,200- pound weight capacity, a low step-in floor and spacious entryway. It can hold up to six occupants and has an optional jump seat.

    The MV-1 was formerly owned by the Vehicle Production Group and produced by AM General. But VPG ran into financial difficulties and eventually shut down.

    In September, AM General reached an agreement to purchase VPG and it formed AM General Mobility Ventures to oversee it.

    At that time, Jeff Adams, a spokesman for AM General, called the deal a huge shot in the arm for the company and the community. “It’s also a huge shot for the disabled community,” he said. “This is truly a revolutionary vehicle, a growth market. And that community is a previously underserved segment of the U.S. and Canadian transportation market.”

    The MV-1 was introduced in 2007 at the New York Auto Show as the Standard Taxi with the plan to use it as a handicapped-accessible taxi in big cities. It is still used in that role, but also for individual ownership.

    AM General and VPG reached an agreement in 2008 for AM General to produce the vehicle. In August 2011 production got under way in Mishawaka, but less than a year later in June 2012, 75 workers were laid off.

    The MV-1 will be available with a factory-installed Ford 4.6-liter V-8 engine, configured either for gasoline or clean-burning compressed natural gas fuel and will be the only vehicle in its class with a factory-installed compressed natural gas fuel option.

    JMeenan@SBTinfo.com or visit southbendtribune.com.


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