The US Senate voted by about a seven-to-one margin to authorize a $1.6-billion federal program for the DOE's Vehicle Technologies Office program housed under the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). This is a different program from the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) program, which was last funded in 2007. The feds have been green-lit to spend $339 million per year through 2020 to speed up the development of advanced-technology vehicles. The mission: to get the US new light-duty fleet to meet the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) mandate of a 54.5 miles per gallon average (which is a real-world average of around 40 mpg) by 2025.
The Senate voted to authorize a $1.6-billion federal program.
Four automakers received funding from the ATVM program in the first go-round. The list was: Tesla, Fisker, Ford and Nissan. Specifically, Tesla was loaned $465 million in 2010, and paid that loan back in 2013 – about nine years ahead of time, with interest. On the flip side, the Department of Energy was slated to loan extended-range plug-in vehicle maker Fisker $528 million, but Fisker only received $192 million before the spigot got shut off because of missed deadlines. Fisker collected enough cash to pay down some of the debt, but the government still was stuck with $168 million unpaid. And that got washed out in Fisker's 2013 bankruptcy. Nissan was awarded $1.4 billion and Ford got $5.9 billion. Senator Gary Peters (D-Michigan), one of the authors of the new bill, issued a press release about the new funding, which you can read here. The new ATVM program will also target automotive suppliers.
UPDATE: This post has been updated. We inaccurately said that the ATVM had been re-authorized. In fact, the ATVM loan program "has $16 billion in remaining loan authority for automotive or component manufacturers for reequipping, expanding, or establishing manufacturing facilities in the U.S. that produce fuel-efficient advanced technology vehicles or qualifying components, or for engineering integration performed in the U.S. for advanced technology vehicles or qualifying components," according to Brian Mahar from the DOE's loan programs office. We regret the error.