By on October 29, 2011

The Detroit News reports that the White House has ordered a review of the Department of Energy’s various loan programs in the wake of the Solyndra scandal, noting

White House Chief of Staff William Daley ordered an independent analysis on the state of the Department of Energy’s loan portfolio — including loans to solar, nuclear and auto companies.

“The president is committed to investing in clean energy because he understands that the jobs developing and manufacturing these technologies will either be created here or in other countries,” Daley said.

One of those programs is the so-called “Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing” loan program, which was nearly used to fund the Detroit bailout and has since come under fire from various quarters. Twice already the Government Accountability Office has questioned the ATVM loan program for its lax oversight, weak goals, lack of technical support, inconsistency in awarding loans and the undetermined impact of funded vehicles. And those internal issues could help explain why the Center For Public Integrity has accused the ATVM program of operating a patronage scheme, alleging that major Obama donor and Tesla board member Steve Westly personally benefitted from loans made to the company. And on the Fisker side of things, backer John Doerr of the VC firm KleinerPerkins is another major Obama donor, suggesting a pattern of politically-motivated loan awards to well-connected EV firms that carry high risks. With government intervention in the auto industry still a hot-button issue in the wake of the bailout, this scandal has huge implications for the legitimacy of America’s emerging “industrial policy.”

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By on October 27, 2010

The recent bailout of America’s auto industry began with approval of so-called “Section 136” loans to help automakers retool factories for higher-efficiency automobiles. Ford, Nissan, Tesla and Fisker have already received their portions of the Department of Energy  loans, but GM and Chrysler have had their payouts delayed due to the program’s strict “viability” requirements. But now Reuters reports that Chrysler’s request for $10b in low-cost government retooling loans is nearing approval. It’s not clear how much of that $10b will be approved, but according to Pentastar spokesfolks

Our application covers a wide variety of technologies including electric vehicles, (gasoline/electric) hybrids and advanced gasoline engine technology

Chrysler still owes some $5.7b to the US Treasury, and the cost of servicing that debt (interest on ChryCo’s existing government debt ranges from 7.22 to 14.33 percent) is considered a major reason for Chrysler’s second-quarter loss this year. GM is also seeking over $10b in 136 loans, but with only $16.5b remaining in the $25b 136 fund, either Chrysler or GM will have to receive less than their entire request. GM’s request will reportedly be approved sometime after Chryslers.

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