At today’s press conference at The Washington Auto Show, Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu had something to say about electric vehicles, and how the U.S. government would approach aiding EV manufacturers. Although it was originally thought that announcement would concern the loans that Tesla, Fisker et al have received, the surprise announcement concerned Nissan’s Leaf all electric car.
The Leaf, which Nissan says should get 100 miles to a charge, cost around $25,000 to $30,000 and should be in showrooms soon, will be receiving $1.4 billion from the American government to upgrade the company’s manufacturing plant located in Smyrna, Tennessee.
At the D.C. Auto Show Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced that the Department of Energy had closed a $1.4 billion loan agreement with Nissan to support the modification of the company’s Smyrna, Tennessee, manufacturing plant to produce both the Nissan LEAF as well as the lithium-ion battery packs that will power them.
The $1.4 billion is part of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, a $25 billion program that was authorized by Congress in 2007, according to Clean Skies. The Japanese automaker says the loan will allow them to generate up to 1,300 jobs when the Tennessee plants are working at full volume. The factory modifications will begin later in 2010 and include the new battery plant as well as changes to the existing structure for electric-vehicle assembly.
Eventually the plants will construct up to 150,000 Nissan LEAF electric cars a year and as many as 200,000 batteries.
AutoBlogGreen said that Secretary Chu’s announcement of the $1.4 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Loan Program loan was down from the original $1.6 billion amount. ABG also reported that Chu dealt a blow to those wanting to get hydrogen up and running as soon as possible. The energy secretary stating that even though hydrogen is part of the DOE’s $13 billion advanced vehicle technology budget, it was “longer in the distance.”
Chu has long been a vocal proponent of electric vehicles, stating back in October of 2009 that he would ” … put every cent into electric cars.”
By Tony Borroz
January 28, 2010