Officials working with the Department of Energy tell the Detroit News that GM and Chrysler face no major obstacles in their quest for huge retooling loans from the DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan program. GM is seeking $14.4b and Chrysler has asked for $8.55b in low-cost government loans. Says Matt Rogers, a senior adviser to the Energy Department
Project finance details need to be worked through, but those things are working out just fine as we work directly with the companies. It’s really a process of making sure that each of the projects that they have are in fact competitive.
Er, competitive compared to what?
So the guys from the DOE and Booz Allen Hamilton or AT Kearny are trying to judge whether the series hybrid Chevy Volt will be competitive? It certainly will be disadvantaged if you don’t fund it. Why? BECAUSE YOU FUNDED THEIR COMPETITION. Now that you have screwed up the natural forces of the marketplace, the DOE must provide equivalent support for the Volt program and let them compete on a level playing field with Nissan, Ford and even Tesla and Fisker.
And he’s right: All four firms he mentions have received money from the ATVML program, despite qualifying for unproven products. Besides, viability of the Volt program was never the main problem with GM’s bid for DOE loans. The big hangup was a financial viability clause, that GM now undoubtedly passes, having received tens of billions of dollars in direct taxpayer support. If you’re going to help GM over the financial hurdle, why pretend that the Volt’s viability is an issue? Especially when the presidential task force on autos already ripped into the Volt’s chances
pre-bailout, only to come to swing back in favor of Chevy’s hail mary.
We’ve known that GM needs this money
since last summer, and we’ve contacted the DOE several times trying to follow up on the status of GM and Chrysler’s loan applications. Why this whole process has been so shrouded in mystery is hard to understand, and this secrecy is more than a little troubling considering the impact these decisions have on the industry. But then, that bridge was crossed when the bailout happened… why the DOE is wasting time pretending that it might not give GM and Chrysler the cherry on top of their bailout is tough to fathom.