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Bright, Fisker, and Tesla All Up for DOE Loans

CNet reports that contrary to their earlier announcement, Bright Automotive will be premiering its IDEA range-extended electric vehicle earlier than planned, on April 21 as opposed to in May at the Electric Vehicle Symposium in Norway as I'd blogged about earlier.

A piece at Salon.com says Bright Automotive is looking for $400 million from the US DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, which explains why they're bring the vehicle to Congress in April.

Meanwhile Fisker, which just picked up over $85 million in venture capital, is also looking for $400 million from the same DOE program. Tesla wants $350 million.

So what is DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) program anyway? The ATVM incentive program was established under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. In 2008 a Continuing Resolution (CR) appropriated $7.5 billion to support a maximum of $25 billion in ATVM loans.

These loans are to go to "automobile and automobile part manufacturers for the cost of re-equipping, expanding, or establishing manufacturing facilities in the United States to produce advanced technology vehicles or qualified components, and for associated engineering integration costs."

A DOE fact-sheet lays out the necessary criteria:

  • Manufacturing facilities be located in the U.S.;
  • Engineering integration be performed in the U.S.;
  • Costs be reasonably related to the reequipping, expanding, or establishing a manufacturing facility in the U.S
  • Costs of engineering integration be performed in the U.S.

The Fisker Karma will retail for over $87,000. The Tesla Model S, for over $56,000, its Roadster for $109,000. Bright Auto's still-unveiled car, the only car of the four that won't be all-electric, is expected to retail in a far more affordable range for the average consumer.

Seems like taxpayer money should be going to support more such vehicles. After all, does anyone really expect either Tesla or Fisker to be content with one loan? How long before they'll be hitting up the DOE for another one?

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