US Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the first three loans to be granted under the government's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program.
The lucky winners, totaling $8 billion worth of low-interest loans from the US Department of Energy: Ford, Nissan, and Tesla.
- Amount: $5.9 billion
- Work Funded: Retooling of manufacturing facilities in Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio through 2011, including conversion of two truck plants to assemble automobiles.
- Vehicles: 13 separate models with electric, hybrid, or improved conventional powertrains, including its EcoBoost turbocharged gasoline direct-injection engines
- Amount: $1.6 billion
- Work Funded: Retooling of Smyrna, Tennessee, assembly plant to build electric cars; creation of advanced lithium-ion cell manufacturing plant
- Vehicles: 2012 Nissan EV (which may be unveiled at this fall's Frankfurt Motor Show), other models
- Amount: $465 million
- Work Funded: Production engineering and, starting in late 2011, assembly of the Model S electric sports sedan; creation of a California facility to assemble electric battery systems for use in its own vehicles and for supply to other manufacturers
- Vehicles: 2012 Tesla Model S sedan
The legislation that established the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program was passed in December 2007, and Congress appropriated the $25 billion in funds last fall.
The loans must go toward establishing production facilities in the United States for advanced powertrains and/or vehicles. Significantly, loans cannot be granted to any company that would not be a viable concern without the money.
That means that General Motors and Chrysler, both of which have applied for loans, will have to cross some hurdles to prove they are viable automakers. Chrysler has just emerged from bankruptcy and is now controlled by Italy's Fiat; GM is currently in bankruptcy.
We'll take a deeper look at this announcement within a day or two. We hope to provide some context on what these loans mean for the US auto industry, industrial competitiveness, and the types of vehicles offered for sale to meet the increased 2016 fuel-economy standards.
Nissan EV-02 prototype
2012 Tesla Model S prototype