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No More DOE Advanced Auto Tech Loans Likely

Posted: March 18, 2013 at 1:27 amThe U.S.

Posted: March 18, 2013 at 1:27 am

The U.S. Dept. of Energy is not considering any further loans under its $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, even though it has agreed to allocate only about $8.4 billion so far.

A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office notes that DOE hasn’t made a loan under the ATVM program in two years. It says most would-be applicants it interviewed believe the cost of the lengthy process, reviews and conditions place on the loan itself outweigh the benefits.

DOE says it considers seven pending loans worth nearly $1.5 billion “inactive” because applicants lack sufficient equity or their technology is not sufficiently ready to commercialize.

The six-year-old ATVM program has approved at least six loans to date:

$5.9 billion to Ford Motor Co. in September 2009 to upgrade factories in five states to make more fuel-efficient vehicles
$1.4 billion to Nissan North America in January 2010 to prepare its factory in Smyrna, Tenn., to make electric vehicles
$465 million to Tesla Motors Inc. in January 2010 to launch EV production at its plant in Freemont, Calif., and to set up capacity to make batteries and powertrain components for plug-ins
$529 million to Fisker Automotive Inc. in April 2010 to develop two plug-in hybrid models (DOE froze the loan early last year because Fisker didn’t meet performance targets)
$50 million to the Vehicle Production Group to develop a six-passenger, wheelchair-accessible vehicle than runs on compressed natural gas
$24 million for Tenneco Inc. in 2010 to produce emission control systems for light-duty vehicles (Tenneco withdrew its application in March 2010)