The Department of Energy is revamping the long dormant green car loan program that helped build Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive, it announced today.
The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program was funded in the autumn of 2008 to distribute $US25 billion in direct loans to help automakers improve the fuel efficiency of their cars.
The DOE approved five loans worth $US8.4 billion between April 2010 and March 2011 for Fisker Automotive, Ford, Tesla Motors, Nissan, and The Vehicle Production Group, LLC. According to the DOE, borrowers estimate the funds were used to create 35,000 direct jobs in eight states.
But the implosion and eventual bankruptcy of Fisker in 2013 — after it spent about $US168 million in federal money — led House Republicans to criticise the loan as “corrupt” and “mismanaged.”
While the DOE never stopped accepting applications, no company has had an ATVM loan approved since 2011.
In a blog post, the DOE says it has improved the program by revising the application process, updating how it responds to applicants, and clarifying eligibility for automotive component technologies like advanced engines and powertrains.
In a letter to the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, Peter W. Davidson, executive director of the DOE’s Loan Programs Office, wrote, “We believe the ATVM Loan Program can play an important financing role with automotive suppliers … With these changes in place, the ATVM Loan Program remains open to suppliers.”
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