Nissan is the first Japanese automaker to confirm that it has asked for funds from the U.S. Department of Energy. The amount of the request is not yet known, but it would be used to upgrade Nissan's assembly plant in Smyrna, TN and would ostensibly be used to develop electric cars and the batteries that power them. Nissan's longstanding goal is to introduce fully electric vehicles to the American market in 2010. The other two big Japanese automakers, Toyota and Honda, say that they have not sought DOE funds.

For the first time in nine years, Nissan is expected to post an annual loss, and it's a biggie. Early estimates place the shortfall at about $2.9 billion, and the Japanese automaker has responded by announcing job cuts totaling 20,000 workers.

According to the Energy Department, 75 applications for funding from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program have come in and 26 of those, including the one from Nissan, have moved passed the initial screening process. The Detroit 3 have each submitted proposals that total about $22 billion in financing combined.

[Source: Reuters | Image: Akihiro I/Getty]

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