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Wider Auto Loan Program for High-Tech Cars Faces Opposition

Republicans in Congress are opposing the Democrats’ plan to expand the Department of Energy’s loan program for high-tech cars.

Reuters reports that the DOE was planning “an active outreach campaign” for their Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program, which was created six years ago for the development of electric and hybrid cars.

The DOE said it still has $15 billion that can be loaned to qualified applicants. Currently, only manufacturers of light passenger vehicles and their components are eligible for the ATVM loan program.

Two Democratic senators, Debbie Stabenow and Senate Energy Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, have drafted a bill allowing component manufacturers in the supply chain and making builders of medium and heavy duty trucks and buses eligible for the loan program.

The department promised funding five companies, including Ford Motor Co., Nissan and Tesla, with over $8 billion between 2009 and 2011. However, the program’s failures are remembered more than its accomplishments.


The DOE is “operating with a limited amount of financial tools,” a policy adviser for the clean energy program of think tank Third Way told Reuters.

The agency’s slow and incomprehensible loan process discouraged some companies. Chrysler Group LLC, for example, gave up their loan application and pursued other options.

The Third Way adviser said it would be better to expand the program to heavy duty automakers and the construction of fueling infrastructures for advanced automobiles.

The head of the House oversight committee, Darell Issa, said that the ATVM loan program was a “perfect example of government waste,” Reuters reports.

The program threw good American tax payers’ hard-earned money into projects that were not necessary or did not actually help develop vehicles with advanced technology, he added.

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