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Next Autoworks, nee V-Vehicles, recently hired CEO Kathleen Ligocki to shepherd its planned 2012 car through to production. The design of the car itself was overseen by Tom Matano, who helped design the original Mazda Miata and oversaw the design of the 1993 RX-7. Matano recently shared some of the compact car's details with Automotive News, which describes it as a "utilitarian five-door hatchback... a cross between a Nissan Leaf and a Lada Niva."

V-Vehicles started making noises back in 2006 about building an environmentally friendly car that ran on compressed natural gas, and doing it here in the U.S. The company is backed by oilman billionaire T. Boone Pickens and the VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the latter of which also backs Fisker. Its head designer is Tom Matano of Mazda Miata and RX-7 fame. In May of this year, Pickens was still talking about the car being on the way, even though all anyone's ever seen of it is a

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