DOE Revives Loan Scheme For Auto Makers

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

After unwinding their Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program in 2011, the Department of Energy is bringing it back. According to The Detroit News, the focus of this round will be on suppliers, as well as lightweight vehicle technology.

Despite the stated focus on suppliers, the timing of the announcement comes as FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne raised the idea of an aluminum Jeep Wrangler as a way of helping the venerable SUV meet increasing fuel economy standards – while also claiming that retrofitting the Toledo, Ohio assembly plant for aluminum construction would be far too expensive.

With roughly $16 billion in unused funds, the ATVM program has plenty of cash to spare to help re-tool Toledo – or any number of facilities. But you can bet that Marchionne, shrewd operator that he is, will use the threat of pulling production from Toledo to leverage some funds from the program – if he’s not already using that as a scare tactic in upcoming negotiations with the UAW.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • Celebrity208 Celebrity208 on Oct 09, 2014

    Is there a different loan rate for the ATVM than what the suppliers/manufacturers could get directly from banks?

    • See 1 previous
    • TW5 TW5 on Oct 09, 2014

      Yes. Most of the first ATVM recipients were credit rated as junk. They received below-market rates, and some of them received financing they wouldn't have otherwise received.

  • JGlanton JGlanton on Oct 09, 2014

    A few days ago I was at a ghost town in Colorado at 11,000 feet testing the off-road limits of my rental car when a Wrangler Limited Sahara pulls up. I ask him where they were from. Texas. I asked him if he towed that Wrangler all the way from Texas. He said that they drove it up and it was very nice. Brand new, right from the dealer lot to the journey. I asked him what kind of mileage he got on the trip. He said he got 19 at best, but going across TX with the air-conditioner on he got 17. Highway. They're going to have to do a little more than add some aluminum to fix that. Anyway, now my wife wants one so we can do an off-road camping trip on the Continental Divide.

    • See 2 previous
    • Hummer Hummer on Oct 09, 2014

      They'd sell much more focusing on cost than battling an uphill battle making it fuel efficient. Put the diesel in it, or put the Hemi in it, but aluminum costs an the other MpG crap won't fly with those buyer.

  • Redav Redav on Oct 09, 2014

    Honestly, if it's a loan program, and if it's run by people who know what they're doing, the program would pay for itself, and thus be perpetually sustainable.

    • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Oct 09, 2014

      You mean like a bank? How about we let the government do that with everything else while we are at it? Profit is just for the greedy after all, and capitalism is evil and terrible.

  • RedStapler RedStapler on Oct 10, 2014

    If you want to make a more fuel efficient Wrangler the 1st step is to shrink it back closer to its historical "normal" size. The current unlimited it quite the Fat F&*# of Jeeps. Take the TJ (97-06) Wrangler, give a a nice 2-2.5L Diesel with a 6-8 speed trans and you are already in the mid to high 20s for real world MPG. My KJ Liberty CRD would get 22-25 real world and it was a 4200lb pig.