Tesla gets federal loan for electric car

June 23, 2009 9:34:33 PM PDT
Tesla Motors in San Carlos is one of a handful of companies to get the first round of federal loans to build fuel-efficient vehicles. It is government money that makes the Energy Department a stakeholder in Tesla and the other companies.

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The $8 billion in loans will make the government not only a partner, but also a big booster of the next-generation of fuel-efficient vehicles. Scott Redmond is chairman of XP Vehicles, a San Francisco start-up working on a four-passenger electric car.

"This allows the banks, the factoring companies, the angels and the VC's to feel comfort because there's a big player standing beside them who spent months and months on due diligence and ostensibly millions of dollars checking out each one of our companies," says Redmond.

San Carlos-based Tesla Motors will get a $465 million loan to build a plant in Southern California to make its new $50,000 sedan.

"This means the most fuel-efficient cars in the world must be made here in America," says U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Ph.D.

The other two loan recipients are Nissan and Ford.

"The money that goes to Ford is a little bit of an open question. Some of it's going to be for improving conventional gasoline cars and others for electric cars. So I hope that the federal government holds their feet to the fire," says Sherry Boschert from Plug-In America.

XP Vehicles is hoping to hear soon about its $40 million loan request. It would like to have its $20,000 electric car on the market in two-and-a-half years or sooner. It has already started hiring laid-off GM, Jeep and Chrysler employees, and it's even looking into utilizing dealerships being dropped by other automakers.

"Our new line of car companies and products can go to those dealers and say, 'Hey, you don't really have to shut down as many people or maybe any of those people. We can work with those spaces,'" says Redmond.

While the loan program is not part of the stimulus plan, green jobs will be created.

Once XP Vehicles gets its government loan, it expects to grow to a 2,000-employee company, and that doesn't include the many contractors that it will be helping along the way.

Link:
If you'd like more information about electric cars in various stages of development, the non-profit group "Plug In America" has a website with a comprehensive list of the models, makers and photos.
Plug In America

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