Los préstamos son ofrecidos a las empresas a un interés mucho menor que el que conseguirían en el mercado y Washington confía que servirán para impulsar una "revolución verde" en todo el sector.
"Tenemos una oportunidad histórica para ayudar a asegurar que la próxima generación de vehículos eficientes se produce en Estados Unidos", afirmó el presidente estadounidense, Barack Obama, a través de un comunicado.
Ford ha sido el más beneficiado de la primera ronda de préstamos anunciada por el secretario de Energía estadounidense, Steven Chu.
Las autoridades estadounidenses han aprobado préstamos por valor de 5.900 millones de dólares para que Ford transforme y modernice sus factorías en Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Misuri y Ohio.
Estas factorías producirán en el futuro 13 modelos de reducido consumo.
Tras el anuncio, el consejero delegado de Ford, Alan Mulally, dijo que la empresa "está orgullosa de ser uno de los primeros fabricantes" considerados por Washington para recibir los préstamos del Departamento de Energía.
"Esta alianza verde entre Ford y el Gobierno de EEUU ayudará a acelerar el desarrollo de tecnologías avanzadas para mejorar la eficiencia de consumo y las emisiones", añadió Mulally.
Posteriormente, durante una rueda de prensa en Detroit, el ejecutivo de Ford explicó que la compañía planea invertir 14.000 millones de dólares en tecnologías avanzadas durante los próximos siete años.
"La maquina de innovación de Estados Unidos, cuando se revoluciona, es la mejor del mundo. Hoy estamos poniendo ese motor en marcha", afirmó Mulally.
Ford es el único de los tres principales fabricantes estadounidenses de automóviles que no ha necesitado ayudas gubernamentales para mantener sus operaciones frente a la crisis financiera mundial.
Desde el pasado mes de diciembre, General Motors y Chrysler han recibido miles de millones de dólares en préstamos públicos, lo que no ha evitado que ambas se declararan en quiebra.
El secretario Chu dijo que "hay más dinero" para otras empresas, tanto fabricantes de automóviles como proveedores de componentes, y que las autoridades federales ya están en conversaciones con General Motors (GM) y Chrysler.
GM recibirá el crédito cuando salga de la quiebra y Chrysler podría hacerse con préstamos pronto, según lo declarado por Chu.
De momento, la japonesa Nissan recibirá 1.600 millones de dólares para renovar la factoría que tiene en Tennessee y que producirá tanto automóviles eléctricos como baterías.
Dominique Thormann, vicepresidente de Nissan en Norteamérica, dijo que el préstamo otorgado por el Departamento de Energía "es una inversión en Estados Unidos", y resaltó que "nos ayudará a poner en nuestras carreteras vehículos de alta calidad, asequibles y con 0 emisiones".
Nissan dijo que empezará a vender vehículos eléctricos en Japón y Estados Unidos en 2010. Las primeras unidades serán fabricadas en Japón pero la empresa anunció que la producción será transferida a Tennessee cuando la factoría de la localidad de Smyrna esté lista en 2012 y tendrá una capacidad para producir 150.000 vehículos eléctricos y 200.000 baterías al año.
Por su parte Tesla, una nueva marca estadounidense especializada en la producción de vehículos eléctricos, recibirá 465 millones de dólares para fabricar automóviles en California.
Tesla dijo que utilizará 365 millones del préstamo federal para la producción del Modelo S, una berlina familiar de cuatro puertas y capaz de transportar siete personas 300 millas (480 kilómetros) con una carga de batería.
El Modelo S costará 49.000 dólares, con un crédito federal de 7.500 dólares, en 2011, cuando se inicie la producción del vehículo.
Tesla utilizará los otros 100 millones de dólares del préstamo para crear una planta que proveerá componentes a otros fabricantes de automóviles y que empleará a unas 650 personas.
Energy Dept. To Lend $8B To Ford, Nissan, Tesla
The Energy Department said Tuesday it would lend $5.9 billion to Ford Motor Co. and provide about $2.1 billion in loans to Nissan Motor Co. and Tesla Motors Inc., making the three automakers the first beneficiaries of a $25 billion fund to develop fuel-efficient vehicles.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the loan recipients at Ford’s Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn. The loans to Ford will help the company upgrade factories in five Midwest states to produce 13 fuel-efficient vehicles.
Nissan was receiving $1.6 billion to retool its plant in Smyrna, Tenn., to build advanced vehicles and build a battery manufacturing facility. Tesla would get $465 million in loans to build electric vehicles and electric drive powertrains in California.
The loans were designed to help auto manufacturers meet new fuel-efficiency standards of at least 35 mpg by 2020, a 40 percent increase over current standards.
"These loans will help the auto industry meet and even exceed the president’s tough fuel standards," Chu said. "This is part of President Obama’s commitment to a new energy strategy for America. … This means the most fuel-efficient cars in the world must be made right here in America."
Dozens of auto companies, suppliers and battery makers have sought a total of $38 billion from the loan program, which was created last year to provide low-interest loans to car companies and suppliers retool their facilities to develop green vehicles and components such as advanced batteries.
Ford had been seeking about $5 billion in loans by 2011 and a total of $11 billion from the program to invest $14 billion in advanced technologies over the next seven years. The company said it will transform plants in Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio.
Ford CEO Alan Mulally said in an interview with The Associated Press that the department approved the company’s entire proposal through 2011 and it would help Ford meet the new fuel efficiency standards.
"This is a tremendous development," Mulally said.
He said the loans would help Ford further its strategy to build a wide range of fuel-efficient cars.
"We want to be in every market segment in the U.S.," Mulally said. "Every year forever we want to continue to improve fuel efficiency."
Ford expects to begin repaying the loans in 2012, with an interest rate based on the current U.S. Treasury rate hovering between 3 and 4 percent, said Ford spokesman Mike Moran.
"If it were at market rates it would be in the double digits," he said. "That’s a huge thing for us."
Ford can draw from the loan for work done to retool its plants going back to late last year, Moran said. The plants must build cars that improve fuel efficiency by 25 percent.
General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Group LLC have received billions of dollars in federal loans to restructure their companies through government-led filings for bankruptcy protection, but Ford avoided seeking emergency aid by mortgaging all of its assets in 2006 to borrow about $25 billion.
Mulally said the loans Ford would receive from the Energy Department were part of a government-industry partnership and "had nothing to do with the emergency loans to keep General Motors and Chrysler in business."
Ford has said it intends to bring several battery-electric vehicles to market. The automaker has discussed plans to produce a battery-electric vehicle van in 2010 for commercial use, a small battery-electric sedan developed with Magna International by 2011 and a plug-in hybrid vehicle by 2012.
General Motors has requested $10.3 billion in loans from the energy program, while Chrysler has asked for $6 billion in loans. Energy officials have said the loans could only go to "financially viable" companies, preventing GM and Chrysler to qualify for the first round of the loans.
Elizabeth Lowery, GM’s vice president of environment, energy and safety policy, said GM still must pass the Energy Department’s financial viability test before it can receive loan funding and the company hoped to get the money shortly after it emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Chu said the Energy Department has started discussing details of the loans with Chrysler and has begun reviewing the "technical side" of the loan requirements with GM.
Nissan said the $1.6 billion loan would be used to modify its Smyrna, Tenn., plant to produce zero-emissions vehicles and lithium-ion battery packs to power them. The Japanese company has previously outlined plans to develop an all-electric car with 100 miles of pure battery range for release in late 2010.
"This loan is an investment in America. It will help us put high-quality, affordable zero-emissions vehicles on our roads," said Dominique Thormann, Nissan North America’s senior vice president for administration and finance.
Tesla, based in San Carlos, Calif., will use $365 million for production engineering and the assembly of the Model S sedan, an all-electric vehicle that is expected to travel up to 300 miles per charge and go on sale in 2011. It will use $100 million for a powertrain manufacturing plant expected to employ 650 workers.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the automaker would use the loan "precisely the way that Congress intended — as the capital needed to build sustainable transport."
Obama Administration Awards First Three Auto Loans for Advanced Technologies to Ford Motor Company, Nissan Motors and Tesla Motors
Washington, DC – Today, the Obama Administration announced $8 billion in conditional loan commitments for the development of innovative, advanced vehicle technologies that will create thousands of green jobs while helping reduce the nation’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil. The loan commitments announced today by the President include $5.9 billion for Ford Motor Company to transform factories across Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio to produce 13 more fuel efficient models; $1.6 billion to Nissan North America, Inc. to retool their Smyrna, Tennessee factory to build advanced electric automobiles and to build an advanced battery manufacturing facility; and $465 million to Tesla Motors to manufacture electric drive trains and electric vehicles in California.
These are the first conditional loan commitments reached as part of the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program. The Department plans to make additional loans under this program over the next several months to large and small auto manufacturers and parts suppliers up and down the production chain.
“We have an historic opportunity to help ensure that the next generation of fuel-efficient cars and trucks are made in America,” said President Obama. "These loans – and the additional support we will provide through the Section 136 program – 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."
"By supporting key technologies and sound business plans, we can jumpstart the production of fuel efficient vehicles in America," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. "These investments will come back to our country many times over – by creating new jobs, reducing our dependence on oil, and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions."
These commitments will help reduce the 140 billion gallons of gasoline Americans consume each year, lessening the nation’s dependence on the volatile world market for oil, and decreasing the cause of a fifth of the nation’s carbon emissions. The Obama Administration recently announced an agreement to raise passenger car fuel standards from 27.5 miles per gallon to a target of 35 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2016. While 35 mpg is ambitious, the Department of Energy’s auto loan program received more than a hundred applications for loans to help achieve greater fuel efficiency. The competition among advances in conventional engine technologies, next-generation biofuels, and transportation electrification holds the potential to increase US fuel efficiency dramatically over the next several years.
The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program is an open and competitive process focusing on the best companies and best technologies in American manufacturing. First appropriated in the fall of 2008, the program will provide about $25 billion in loans to companies making cars and components in US factories that increase fuel economy at least 25 percent above 2005 fuel economy levels. The intense technical and financial review process is focused not on choosing a single technology over others, but is aimed at promoting multiple approaches for achieving a fuel efficient economy.
Applications for the loan program have included vehicles running on electricity, biofuels, and advanced combustion engines, and were submitted by both car and component makers, US automakers, US manufacturing subsidiaries of non-US-based companies, major US auto parts suppliers, and innovative startups.
Ford Motor Company will receive $5.9 billion in loans through 2011 to help finance numerous engineering advances to traditional internal combustion engines and electrified vehicles. In addition, theses loans will help the company convert two truck plants to the production of cars. Ford will be raising the fuel efficiency of more than a dozen popular models, including the Focus, Escape, Taurus and F-150, representing close to two million new vehicles annually and helping to transform nearly 35,000 employees to green engineering and manufacturing jobs in factories across 5 states: Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio. Ford is driving a major upgrade, leveraging a portfolio of technologies, including the direct injection, smart turbocharging EcoBoost engine, advanced transmissions, and new hybrid technologies.
The facilities that will be impacted by today’s announcement include: Chicago Assembly, Louisville Assembly, Dearborn Assembly, Dearborn Engine, Livonia Transmission, Michigan Assembly, Van Dyke Transmission, Kansas City Assembly, Cleveland Engine, Lima Engine, and Sharonville Transmission.
Nissan will receive $1.6 billion to produce electric cars and battery packs at its manufacturing complex in Smyrna, Tennessee. The loan will aid in the construction of a new battery plant and modifications to the existing assembly facility. These fully electric cars are an important milestone for vehicles produced in the United States by a major international automaker. These cars are energy efficient, using electricity at a gasoline-equivalent rate of more than 350 mpg. This new state of the art facility is a notable effort by a major automaker with well-established US operations to produce its most advanced vehicles and lithium-ion batteries. Nissan aims to manufacture a cost-competitive all-electric car, overcoming a major obstacle to widespread adoption of pure electric vehicles. Nissan will offer electric vehicles to fleet and retail customers, and plans to ramp up production capacity in Smyrna up to 150,000 vehicles annually. Nissan anticipates the project may result in an increase of up to 1,300 jobs in Smyrna when full production is reached.
Tesla Motors will receive $465 million that will also advance electric vehicles. The first loan will finance a manufacturing facility for the Tesla Model S sedan. This vehicle demonstrates how the emerging electric car is becoming more affordable: the Model S is expected to be roughly $50,000 cheaper than Tesla’s first vehicle, the Roadster. The all-electric sedan consumes no gasoline and runs entirely on electricity from any conventional 120V or 220V outlet. It will get the equivalent of more than 250 miles per gallon, far exceeding the 32.7 mpg minimum efficiency required for large sedans. Production of the Model S will begin in 2011 and ramp up to 20,000 vehicles per year by the end of 2013. This integrated facility expects to create 1,000 jobs in Southern California.
The second part of the loan will support a facility to manufacture battery packs and electric drive trains to be used in Teslas and in vehicles built by other automakers, including the Smart For Two city car by Daimler. This project demonstrates how Tesla’s early technology will support electric projects at larger companies. Early pilot battery pack production will begin in 2011, reaching about 10,000 by 2012 and 30,000 packs in 2013. The new facility expects to employ 650 people in the Bay area of Northern California.