• Jan 28th 2010 at 5:43PM
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Department of Energy Secretary Chu announced the closing of Nissan's $1.4 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Loan Program loan (originally, the amount was for $1.6 billion) today during the Washington Auto Show. As expected, this money will used to kick off production of the Leaf in the U.S.
While the news, such as it is, is about the all-electric Leaf and the 1,300 jobs this loan is expected to create in Smyrna, TN, Chu's speech touched on all sorts of advanced vehicle technologies, from cleaner gasoline engines to biofuels. Chu's statement about hydrogen, which part of the DOE's $13 billion advanced vehicle technology budget, was "longer in the distance, but we're still in there."

While discussing some of the other projects the DOE is funding, Chu somewhat surprisingly called the Fisker Karma "not a high-end cost vehicle," depending on who you are, and said that the Chevrolet Volt and the Tesla Model S were examples of "strong electric vehicle projects." Full details in the press release after the jump.
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Department of Energy Announces Closing of Loan Agreement to Bring Production of Nissan LEAF, Battery to North America

Loan used to modify Smyrna, Tenn., manufacturing plant for production in 2012

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Today, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced that the Department of Energy has closed a $1.4 billion loan agreement with Nissan North America, Inc. The loan will support the modification of Nissan's Smyrna, Tenn., manufacturing plant to produce the Nissan LEAF, a zero-emission, all-electric vehicle, and the lithium-ion battery packs to power them.

The loan, which originated through the Department's loan guarantee program office, was issued as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, a $25 billion program authorized by Congress as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The program is designed to accelerate the development of vehicles and technologies that increase U.S. energy independence, create cleaner means of transportation and stimulate the American economy. The loan was finalized after a rigorous financial and technical qualification process.

"Nissan applauds the Department of Energy's support of the development of innovative, advanced vehicle technologies and the creation of clean energy jobs," said Scott Becker, senior vice president, Administration and Finance, Nissan North America. "Nissan is committed to zero-emission mobility. This loan, which will bring production of the Nissan LEAF to Tennessee, is a significant step in sustaining American jobs and American manufacturing."

The loan will result in the creation of up to 1,300 jobs when the plants are operating at full capacity. Modification of the Smyrna manufacturing plant, which will begin later this year, includes a new battery plant and changes in the existing structure for electric-vehicle assembly. When fully operational, the vehicle assembly plant will have the capacity to build 150,000 Nissan LEAF electric cars per year, and the new plant will have an annual capacity of 200,000 batteries.

Nissan, along with its Alliance partner, Renault, is the only automaker committed to mass marketing all-electric vehicles on a global scale. Nissan LEAF, a five-passenger sedan, will be available for private and fleet customers. It is being launched in the U.S., Japan and Europe in December 2010. Nissan has spearheaded a holistic approach to zero-emission mobility by working with states, municipalities, utility companies and other partners, to prepare markets and infrastructure. Nissan has formed more than a dozen partnerships in the United States, in markets including State of Tennessee, the State of Oregon, Sonoma County and San Diego in California, Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., Washington D.C., Seattle, Raleigh, N.C., and with Houston-based Reliant Energy.

In North America, Nissan's operations include automotive design, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program 2010, whose key priorities are reducing CO2 emissions, cutting other emissions and increasing recycling. More information on the Nissan LEAF and zero emissions can be found at www.nissanusa.com/leaf-electric-car

Our travel and lodging for this media event were provided by the Auto Alliance.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am assuming there were a lot of stipulations for the use of that loan that benefits the US. (ie those 1300 jobs are probably required, ie .. they are probably required to manufacture here in the us .. ie probably required to use US suppliers for a certain percentage of the parts .. etc etc ... ). The corporate profits will still leave the us most likely depending on the citizenship of the top executives ... This is still probably a win for the US .. it just doesn't seem so on the face of it.

      • 5 Years Ago
      1.4 Billion of hard earned taxpayers money to a Japanese French multinational for producing a car that breaks down for 8 hours every 100 miles (well, not really 100, in real life, you know what I mean). Are they out of their minds?
        • 5 Years Ago
        How the hell do you know it's going to break down that often? Do you have the car with you? Have you test drove one and it exploded? You got that magical time machine somewhere? Or are you some idiot that can predict the future?

        I can say you're full of crap but am I predicting the future? Naw.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The money is not even earned by taxpayers. It came from Chinese money buying our treasuries.

        Actually it is a good business practice, borrow cheaply from the Chinese and lend it to Nissan with higher interest rate.

        This is one instance where not only the US govt benefits and make money, lots of US jobs get created at Nissan and local US suppliers.

        On top of that, we get to reduce our dependence on oil with the electric cars being produced. Furthermore, we're helping the environment as well by reducing CO2.

        If a US company can do similarly, I am sure we would be glad to give the loan out to them as well.
      • 5 Years Ago
      How is it that the US became a superpower with a good standard of living?

      Suppling ourselves and our allies the tools needed to win a war to secure our freedom and peace.
      I guess our industry had nothing to do with it.
      It must I, who can`t see the forrest for the trees.

      We can always fall back on making potato chips and hamburgers.

      What assets?????????????? WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Everyone touts the fact that the japanese are building plants here in the US, but do they realize the following: Many (if not most) of the workers in most of these plants are temporary, making low wages, no retirement, etc... The engineering for the car, the plant, the manufacturing process, etc... is all done in Japan. The materials for the tooling and conveyors in the plant are designed, manufactured, and shipped to the US. The engineering / installation management is conducted mainly by Japanese while the plant is being built and many Japanese are kept on staff while the plant is running. Omron, Mitsubishi, Idec, Fuji, etc... are the suppliers of the components for these plants not GE, Rockwell, etc... So for the next 20 - 30 years the rework and replacement of these components will be by Japanese tooling and conveyor companies, installing Japanese components. We are giving away / subsidizing high paying, skilled jobs (component manufacturing, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, etc...) to get 1300 low paying, mostly temp level manufacturing jobs. These are not the type of high paying jobs where a worker can buy a nice house, pay for their kids college education, vacation in Florida every winter. This is the problem with the government taking my money, no check that....OUR money and doing what they want with it. At a minimum, its OUR money and WE should have a say in how it is spent. Frankly I don't want to give my money to a Japanese company when we are so desperately in need of high paying, skilled, jobs to get this economy going.
        • 5 Years Ago

        I can't speak on behalf of the japanese semiconductor/electronic mfg jobs, but you are incorrect when it comes to the auto industry.

        Manufacturing processes and mechanical design for cars for the US market are designed in the United states within Honda, Nissan and Toyota. Not positive about Subaru.

        Obviously company flagships (like NSX, GTR, etc) are usually designed in Japan but please don't make little of their presence in the US. All of these "foreign" companies have many facilities around the US.

        I have one here from Toyota with at least 20 different facilities nationwide. These people are getting paid for a career. They have good benefits:


        these factories also don't have unions controlling wages but I can assure you they are treated well. all that means is their labor costs are lower as they aren't paying anyone but the workers.

        I'm an engineering student getting into this industry... I know what I'm talking about.

        Not loaning money to Nissan is not comparable to Japan loaning money to Ford. We have little to no operations in Japan. Nissan is all over the US.

        @the ignorant folks
        If you really want to talk constitution, we should have never ever bailed out GM, a failing company. That is not part of the constitution. Giving out a regular ol' loan is much more reasonable from a constitutional perspective than taking >50% ownership in a failing company with taxpayer money.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The argument you'll hear on this posting from the various autoblog contributors is that Toyota, Nissan, and Honda all build as many cars in the US than GM and Ford anyway.. so they're as "American" as the Detroit 3... when they couldn't be more wrong.

      Who knows why they're getting a loan but as long as it's an investment in alternative energy tech and not oil, I'm all for it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So much, for arguement for buying American when our own government doesn`t believe in it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ah now WHOFAN's comments are satirical jokes....I get it now...

        • 5 Years Ago
        So you support union jobs then?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Whofan made a satirical joke and Nozferat responded:

        "Then go and complain to the big 3 about why they can't put out a similar product like the Leaf "

        You mean like the electric Focus? Millions have actually seen that in action.

        "While GM has been driveling on and on and on about the stupid Volt (and it STILL isn't out yet and probably well over most peoples' budgets when it is),"

        The Volt is on schedule. It's just the constant press that makes it seem like it's taking forever.

        "Nissan quietly brings the Leaf to a far broader audience."

        I beg to differ. The Leaf's usability is greatly reduced in extreme heat or cold. The Leaf has a much more limited range. The Volt costs more, but is MUCH more usable.

        "Are you like some other idiots around here who want to blame the pathetic inability of US auto manufacturers on foreigners? If it's not foreigners, it's unions. If it's not unions, it's liberals. Can't play victim forever."

        That's it. Make it personal.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Loan money to the competition, what a great idea! Idiots...
        • 5 Years Ago
        PISS hard working taxpayer money away to failing, decrepit, crap US auto companies...EVEN BETTER IDEA!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why is AMERICAN taxpayer dollars going to a FOREIGN owned company in the form of a loan? Aside from the readily apparent Unconstitutional nature of government loaning any business money on the federal level, it is repugnant that a foreign company should get our tax dollars and it is not mitigated by dollars being used in the United States. This is an outrageous and repugnant use of taxpayer dollars. This government does not know that its powers are very limited by the Constitution and they keep stealing more power and exploiting taxpayers in the process!
        • 5 Years Ago
        @hazdaz Actually you're wrong, because how valuable a loan is at a particular interest rate must take into account the risk of default and thus what market rate is.
        That is, a loan to a company that is all but guaranteed to be bankrupt-including the ones where the government basically planned to take the companies through bankruptcy-is not a real loan since the company can spend the money then get rid of much of it's debt almost immediately through bankruptcy. Similarly, loans where the government basically trades how much the company owes for worthless shares are also not really loans since the actual market value of the shares is basically crap.
        A loan to a company that you don't think will go bankrupt can be profitable. Now in this case if it's below market rate they may still be giving the company a little bit of savings, but for some projects there's just no way you can get large enough of a loan from a private entity due to liquidity or risk management reasons.
        So a bailout loan is a loan essentially given to a company that's all but bankrupt. It seems unlikely that Nissan will go bankrupt (again), especially given that it's owned largely by Renault and thus heavily backed by the French government as well. For all intents and purposes Nissan is not going to go bankrupt so these are real loans.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Because they understand these "foreign" companies employ thousands of hardworking Americans. These "foreign" companies have also proven to be much more financially stable than some domestic juggernauts.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Matthew

        You are so goddamn clueless. No matter how many times people correct your dumb ass, you just continue to spew the same idiotic comments. The BAILOUTS we gave were LOANS (just like these loans to Nissan). Not "FREE" money, like so many of you idiots keep on calling it. They were LOANS. Meant to be repaid, just like all loans are supposed to be.
        • 5 Years Ago

        Maybe they are loaning the money to Nissan because they will pay it back with interest. Ya know, the reason why loans exist in the first place.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Because apparently a foreign company can make an all-electric car for the masses and a domestic car company cannot.

        Another slap in the face to Big3 fanboys.
      • 5 Years Ago
        • 5 Years Ago
        Neither Abraham or Bodman had any background in the oil industry.

        Abraham was a lawyer and politician, just like his three predecessors.

        Bodman held a chemical engineering Sc. D and had run a chemical company. Making him the first SOE with significant scientific qualifications since Duncan was replaced in 1981.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Finally the DOE is run by scientists and not oil company hacks. I am so glad the Cheney era is over.
      • 5 Years Ago
      As long as they are paying it back,who cares whether they are a domestic or foriegn company?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I just emailed my congressman about my feelings on this matter.

      I don`t mind bailing out Detroit with my money. Bailing out Nissan is sickening.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Dude....stop with your bullsht drivel already.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Lets summarize:

      1) US Taxpayer dollars goes to foreign company instead of US company

      1) 1300 direct jobs created in US
      2) Development and production of advanced electric automobile in US
      3) Reduction of petroleum usage once electric vehicles are sold in the US increasing energy security of the country and reducing long term petroleum dependence
      4) More jobs created by suppliers to supply parts
      5) Loan that will be paid back with interest vs a bailout

      No brainer here folks. Think with your brain instead of your emotions.
        • 5 Years Ago

        You're a dying nation because your corporations are FKING you. The wealth of this country is measured by how well the companies are doing...not the people. People in this country became disposable and useless a long time ago.

        The fact that most Americans are completely uninvolved in their country's politics and economy (other than what's on sale at Costco this week) is a clear indicator that you have no clue what your government nor your corporations are doing under your noses. You blame foreigners for taking jobs away from you. But who the hell do you think is outsourcing them to foreign countries? Santa Claus?
        • 5 Years Ago
        > Cons:
        > 1) US Taxpayer dollars goes to foreign company instead of US company

        Yup, during a economic downtime even.

        > Pros:
        > 1) 1300 direct jobs created in US

        1300 jobs which could also have been created in a US company.

        > 2) Development and production of advanced electric automobile in US

        Owned by a foreign company, so it means nothing.

        > 3) Reduction of petroleum usage once electric vehicles are sold in the
        > US increasing energy security of the country and reducing long term
        > petroleum dependence

        Because dependence on foreign countries is a bad thing. See what I did there?

        > 4) More jobs created by suppliers to supply parts

        See #1

        > 5) Loan that will be paid back with interest vs a bailout

        What kind of interest? GM may not (or may, I don't know) be paying interest, but they lost control of the company. Nissan isn't losing control of the company. Apples and oranges.

        > No brainer here folks. Think with your brain instead of your emotions.

        No brainer here folks. Think long term, instead of short term.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Problem is Nissan is competing with a industry we bailed no, loaded money to in order to survive,
        Would Japan give Ford,GM or Chrysler a loan like this?
        We are a dying nation because we are naive.
        I guess the European part of Nissan deserves something. The Europeans do buy cars built by American companys
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