DOE loans $465 million to Tesla Motors

The money will be used for construction of a manufacturing facility in Southern California on the Model S electric sedan and a power-train manufacturing facility in Palo Alto, Calif.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu on Jan. 21 announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) has closed its $465 million loan with Tesla Motors Inc. (San Carlos, Calif., USA) for construction of a manufacturing facility in Southern California on the Model S electric sedan and a power-train manufacturing facility in Palo Alto, Calif. The Palo Alto facility will assemble electric vehicle battery packs, electric motors, and related electric vehicle control equipment, both for Tesla’s own electric vehicles and for sale to other automobile manufacturers. The Tesla Roadster makes significant use of carbon fiber composite materials.

The agreement was negotiated and signed by the Department’s Loan Programs Office, which supports the development of innovative, advanced vehicle technologies to create thousands of clean energy jobs while helping reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

“This is an investment in our clean energy future that will create jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said Secretary Chu. “It will help build a customer base and begin laying the foundation for American leadership in the growing electric vehicles industry.  This is part of a sustained effort to develop and commercialize technologies that will be broadly deployed throughout the American auto industry.”

Tesla’s planned Model S will consume no gasoline and will not produce any tailpipe emissions. It is being designed to offer a variety of range options depending on the battery pack used, from 160 to 300 miles on a single charge. Volume production of the Model S is planned to begin in 2012 with a target production capacity of 20,000 vehicles per year by the end of 2013. According to Tesla, the Model S project and power-train manufacturing facility are expected to create more than 1,600 jobs.

This announcement marks the second loan arrangement agreement signed by DOE with an advanced technology vehicle manufacturer. In September 2009, DOE signed its first loan agreement for $5.9 billion to Ford Motor Co. The Department has also signed conditional commitments with Nissan North America Inc. and Fisker Automotive. Tenneco Inc. became the first advanced technology component manufacturer to obtain a conditional commitment from DOE in October 2010. Nissan plans to build electric cars and battery packs at the company’s Smyrna, Tenn., manufacturing complex, while Fisker recently announced plans to build plug-in hybrid electric vehicles by reopening a shuttered GM plant in Wilmington, Del.

The Department of Energy was appropriated $7.5 billion by Congress to support up to $25 billion in loans to companies making cars and components in U.S. factories that increase fuel economy at least 25 percent above 2005 fuel economy levels. The Department plans to make additional loans over the next several months to large and small auto manufacturers and parts suppliers up and down the production chain.