Washington, D.C. – Nissan, Ford and electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla have been conditionally approved for government loans for the development of innovative and advanced technologies.

These are the first conditional loan commitments reached as part of the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program. Under the program, Ford will receive US$5.9 billion, Nissan North America will receive $1.6 billion, and Tesla Motors will receive $465 million.

The loan will help Nissan produce electric vehicles. The program is designed to accelerate the development of vehicles and technologies that increase U.S. energy independence, create cleaner transportation methods, and stimulate the economy. Companies receiving the loans must put collateral in place before approval. Construction at Smyrna is scheduled to begin by the end of 2009, after an environmental assessment is completed. Production is planned to start in late 2012.

Nissan has said it will offer electric vehicles in the U.S. and Japan beginning in 2010. The first vehicles for the U.S. market will be built in Japan before production is shifted to Smyrna. When fully operational, the Tennessee plant will have the capacity to build 150,000 zero-emission vehicles and 200,000 batteries per year.

Tesla will use $365 million for production engineering and assembly of the Model S, an all-electric family sedan that carries seven people and travels up to 300 miles (482 km) per charge. The vehicle has an anticipated base price of $49,900, after a $7,500 U.S. federal tax credit. Tesla said that with the lower cost of electricity versus gasoline and a relative lack of necessary service and maintenance, the Model S will have a lifetime ownership cost equivalent to a conventional car with a sticker price of $35,000. Tesla expects to start production in late 2011 in a plant employing about 1,000 workers.
The company will use $100 million for a powertrain manufacturing plant that will supply all-electric powertrain solutions to other automakers, and employ about 650 people. Tesla is in the final stages of negotiation for facilities in California.



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