“An opportunity to hit the accelerator on U.S. auto manufacturing growth” is how Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz characterized the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVM) and the $16 billion in low-interest financing that is available to support efficient-vehicle programs. While auto suppliers have always been eligible to participate since Congress created the ATVM in 2007, none have secured funding to date. Well, it’s about time the feds recognized that innovation comes from the supply chain as well as OEMs.
Moniz announced in a speech last week that the program is being overhauled to make it easier to fund production of technologies such as lightweight materials, efficient engines and low-friction tires. The changes also include legal clarification to show that suppliers are eligible for the program, a promise to respond more quickly to applicants and the creation of a new on-line application portal.
Roland Hwang, director of the transportation program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, weighed in and said focusing on suppliers is appropriate because automakers are increasingly depending on them to help meet new fuel economy standards, which can strain the suppliers’ finances.
Ford Motor Company, Nissan, Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive all have participated in the loan program. Auto suppliers, it’s your turn.