The stunning rejection of a $321-million loan by the U.S. Dept. of Energy has start-up automaker V-Vehicle Co. weighing its next move. The loan, to come from DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, would have funded a $241.2-million renovation at the former Guide Corp. headlight plant in Monroe, La., and provided another $79.9 million for vehicle design and coordination with up to 30 suppliers. V-Vehicle said the loan was rejected because of questions about the company’s financial viability.

Company founder Frank Varasano said earlier the company had raised $86.5 million in private funds. The company’s plan also was supported by $67 million in state incentives and a property tax that would have generated $12.5 million. V-Vehicle returned $6.2 million in state incentives, and the property tax has been canceled. The plant would have produced the V-Car, a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle with gas mileage of about 40 mpg.