Ford may “just say ‘no’” to TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money that puts them under the control of the PTFOA (Presidential Task Force on Automobiles), but the other wise acronym-aversive automaker doesn’t mind bellying up to the DoE’s (Department of Energy) bailout buffet. Bloomberg‘s mysterious “people familiar with the plans” say Ford, Nissan and Tesla will all dine upon loans from the “original” bailout package: the $25 billion feast created by the 2007 energy bill. The loans were intended to “help automakers boost fleetwide fuel economy.” In February, the DoE said they’d received 75 applications, totaling $38 billion. According to Bloomies, Ford, Nissan and Tesla are the first to get the handouts loans.
Ford’s asking for $5 billion, including almost a half billion to convert a Michigan factory that builds SUVs to build small cars. Tesla wants $450 million to develop its Model S and “expand a drive train business that sells parts to other automakers.” Nissan (the only foreign-based automaker to apply for the loans) said they’d requested “an unspecified amount,” but in a separate story Bloomberg states Nissan plans to start building electric cars in their Smyrna, Tennessee, plant, and that can’t be cheap to get going.
So why aren’t GM and Chrysler hoovering this buffet too? Ay, there’s the rub. To participate, a company must “be financially viable.” Those pesky bankruptcy proceedings kind of put a damper on this party. Whether they’ll be eligible to forage for the scraps left over once everyone else gets their share and the dust has settled from their “reorganizations” is yet to be decided. But I’m betting the Congressional kitchen will get busy cooking up a sumptuous second course for them if they just ask.