The U.S. Department of Energy will finally announce the first recipient of low interest loans under the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Incentive Program. The first winner is Ford, and analysts expect the DoE to announce Nissan and Tesla Motors, as well. Ford applied for up to $11 billion in loans, but the amount it will get has not been disclosed and will likely only be a small fraction of that in this first round. The Dearborn-based automaker will use the money to fund its electric vehicle program that will launch a battery-powered version of the Transit Connect in 2010 followed by a C-segment car in 2011.
Nissan wants to add production of its upcoming electric car and lithium ion batteries at its assembly complex in Smyrna, Tennessee. Tesla, however, would be the big winner this round, as the money it may receive will allow the fledgeling EV maker to proceed with completing development and production of the Model S. Recent investment in the company by Daimler was probably a big help in getting the loan approved, since companies had to demonstrate viability. And since the ATVM program favors re-tooling of older existing plants, Tesla will probably look at acquiring a closed factory from another company. Recent rumors had the company possibly getting a former McDonnell-Douglas factory in Long Beach, although there are plenty of other properties available.
The current Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings at General Motors and Chrysler made those companies ineligible in the current round. It's not known if any announcements will be made about loans for battery makers like A123 or EnerDel.