Despite Failures, DOE Green Loan Program Not Such A Flop

volt-assemblyWith recent high-profile failures of government-backed alt-fuel projects including Fisker Automotive and the Vehicle Production Group, one wouldn’t be blamed for thinking the green energy loan program was a flop. But a well-written analysis of the program finds that, despite incessant criticisms, the program did better than some people would have you think.

This piece by Ronnie Schrieber over at The Truth About Cars lays out all the details of the program, and it really is worth reading beginning to end. For those short on time though, I’ll summarize.

The Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, or ATVM, began in 2007 under the Bush Adminstration and received $25 billion in funding to loan to green energy companies. To date, the program has loaned out just under $9 billion though, and the major recipient was “We didn’t take a bailout” Ford. Here’s the breakdown;

  • Ford: $5.9 billion

  • Nissan: $1.45 billion

  • Tesla: $465 million

  • Fisker: $529 million (but only used $193 million)

  • VPG: $50 million

While Fisker and VPG are not doing so well, Tesla stock is soaring, and Ford and Nissan are both seeing positive market growth. Admittedly, Ford and Nissan were safe bets, but the overall government liability to “risky” investments was just over a billion dollars. The government spends more on toilets and lightbulbs than it did on this green energy venture, and Tesla just yesterday repaid its government loans in full.

Furthermore, there were over 100 applicants for this loan money, and an overwhelming majority were turned down. Many of these companies, such as Bright Automotive, Coda, and Aptera since closed their doors, probably for good. It was also reported that after Fisker secured funding, loan standards were seriously tightened, and the DOE has not awarded a single loan since then.

It’s a sad end to a promising program, a downfall precipitated by politics rather than facts. But that’s how the game is played.

Source: The Truth About Cars


Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.