Ever since multi-billionaire investor T. Boone Pickens unveiled his grand energy plan for the United States last month, everyone with an ounce of skepticism has been wondering why he’s so bullish on using natural gas for transportation. True to form for the canny Texan, it soon emerged that he owns a refueling station business called Clean Energy Fuels.
Now Pickens, who was famously portrayed as a high-stakes gambler by Time, has doubled down on his own plan, and helped put $160 million into a company with plans to build a fleet of natural gas taxis and paratransit (for the disabled) vehicles.
The Vehicle Production Group makes a boxy yellow vehicle called “The Standard Taxi”, which can fit four passengers and a wheelchair. Taxis seem like an intelligent bet, because many commercial fleets and bus systems already run on natural gas. Private commercial transportation is a logical step toward the consumer market.
The investment wasn’t majority led by Pickens and Clean Energy Fuels, who went for $10 million each. The majority of the funds came from Perseus, a private equity fund which also, incidentally, owns a stake in Clean Energy Fuels. Keep an eye out for further moves from this trio — whenever the money and reputation of gamblers is at stake, they can be counted on to follow up with another bet.