The US Department of Energy had previously allocated $25 billion in funds to be given as low cost loans to companies that would use it to develop advanced technology vehicles. The program was funded in late 2008 by the Bush administration, and the deadline for applications was set at December 31 2008. The program was legislated as a part of the 2008 $787 billion Wall Street Bailout.
An initial pool of 75 applicants requesting a total of $38 billion was whittled down to 25 current applications. Included among them are General Motors asking for $8.3 billion to help it build the Volt and other electric cars and Ford and Chrysler each asking for $5 billion for their electric car programs. Furthermore, startup Tesla Motors has asked for $350 million, and US battery makers EnerDel and A123 Systems are asking for $480 million and $1.2 billion respectively.
President Obama recently announced an additional $2 billion would be added to the coffer for advanced battery development for use in automobiles.
All this and well and good but where is the money?
It turns out there are 12 full and part time employees whose job is to figure out who should get these moneys, and are tasked with poring through complicated applications sometimes more than 1000 pages long. Also GM and Chrysler still have to prove they are first viable in order to qualify , the deadline for which is as least March 31st.
Despite the plethora of corporate execs and politicians breathing down his neck for the money, Lachlan Seward, director of the program is taking a measured approach.
"We're moving with a sense of urgency," he said "But at the same time we are trying to do this in a responsible way that reflects prudent credit policy and taxpayer protections."