U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today that Ford, Nissan, and Tesla are among the automakers receiving loans from the Energy Department to build or retool factories that will produce fuel-efficient and electric vehicles.
The $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan program was established in 2007, but the funds have been unused until now. Chu had promised upon taking office that the funds would start to be dispersed by April or May. Speaking at Ford’s Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Chu said Ford would receive $5.9 billion to retool 11 plants in five states; Nissan would receive $1.6 billion to retool its Smyrna, Tenn., plant; and Tesla would receive $465 million to prepare for its Model S sedan.
President Obama said the loans “will create good jobs and help the auto industry to meet and even exceed the tough fuel economy standards we’ve set, while helping us to regain our competitive edge in the world market.”
One of the requirements of accepting the federal loans is that any vehicle built using the funds must improve fuel economy by 25 percent. According to the Obama administration, Ford will use its loans to improve the fuel efficiency of more than a dozen of its models, including the Focus, Escape, Taurus, and F-150.
“This green partnership between Ford and the U.S. government will help accelerate the development of advanced technologies for even better fuel efficiency and emissions. Ford is absolutely committed to fuel economy leadership with every new model we introduce. In fact, we plan to invest nearly $14 billion in advanced technology vehicles in the next seven years,” said Ford CEO Alan Mulally in a written statement.
Chrysler and GM applied for $6 billion and $10.3 billion, respectively, but were unable to receive funds because of their inability to prove financial viability.