MISHAWAKA, Indiana — AM General has restarted the production of specially designed vans for the disabled at a northern Indiana factory where it has recalled 200 laid-off workers.
The resumed production of the MV-1 wheelchair-accessible vans at the Mishawaka factory comes about six months after AM General took over the Michigan company that designed the vehicle.
AM General officials announced Tuesday that its Mobility Ventures subsidiary would build about 5,600 of the vans this year. AM General had previously built the vans under contract with the Vehicle Production Group of Allen Park, Michigan, before that company suspended operations last year.
The vans include a power ramp from a side door for wheelchair access, with room for two wheelchairs inside, including one next to the driver's seat.
Wheelchair users have previously had to have vans converted to be accessible, Mobility Ventures vice president John Walsh told WSBT-TV.
"This is the only accessible vehicle that's ever been produced off an assembly line," Walsh said. "This is a product that comes right off the assembly line."
The MV-1 is the only U.S.-built vehicle that meets or exceeds Americans With Disabilities Act guidelines, the South Bend Tribune reported.
AM General recalled about 200 laid-off workers this year to restart van production and fill foreign military orders for Humvees, which it builds at a nearby factory.
Vehicle Production Group had received a $50 million federal loan in 2011 to make the vans. The Energy Department said it lost about $42 million on the loan after VPG paid back $5 million and AM General bought remainder of the debt in an auction for $3 million.