USDA loan to help central Oregon electric car maker

The all-electric Venus Motors Veepster sells for a pre-incentive price of $24,000.

The all-electric Venus Motors Veepster sells for a pre-incentive price of $24,000. 

A $20,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Oregon rural development office will help get the word out about a central Oregon electric vehicle manufacturer with the goal of creating as many as 10 jobs between three Bend-area companies.

Venus Motors Company, based near Bend, has an electric chassis and drivetrain technology that is the basis for customizable electric vehicle such as its Veepster, an all-electric jeep-style vehicle with a 100-mile range, a top speed of about 60 miles per hour and a $24,000 price tag โ€” before incentives.

Venus Motors sources chassis from BH Workman & Sons in Prineville and body parts from FiberFab in LaPine, creating a small EV supply chain in central Oregon that is targeted by the USDA grant.

"This is a great example of how USDA is helping rural businesses access new markets so they can grow and create jobs," said USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker in a press release.

"We're just getting off the ground right now," said Jay Bower, chief technology officer of Venus Motors.

Bower said Venus is working on closing an investment of up to $2 million that would boost its capacity so it can build up to 20 vehicles at a time.

In addition to the Veepster, Venus offers a fiberglass Porsche replica that sells for $28,000 and a low-speed version of the jeep that goes for $13,000.

Bower said customizing an electric vehicle is like ordering a Subway sandwich.

"You just check off the boxes," he said.

The company has just two employees and a small network of independent dealers โ€” two of them in Oregon, two in Nevada and one in Arizona.

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