Gov’t to Hand Out $25B in Green Car Loans

By Paul Kiel

It can be difficult to keep straight all the billions going to auto companies. But the Department of Energy is reportedly set to announce that it will begin doling out sums from a $25 billion loan program for the development of fuel-efficient cars. The money comes from a bill passed last September and signed by President Bush and is totally separate from the TARP.

Among the first recipients are Ford, Nissan and Tesla, the small electric car company. The amounts will be announced today, but Ford has requested $5 billion. Nissan is getting the money to build a battery-electric car in its Tennessee plant.

Left out, apparently, are GM and Chrysler, as the loans are supposed to go to “financially viable” companies. But don’t cry for them: More than $65 billion of the TARP has been earmarked for them, not including the $14 billion that’s gone to their financing arms. It’s also not clear at this point whether all $25 billion will be loaned out immediately. The two companies might have another shot further down the line.

Adding the $25 billion loan program to the $85 billion in TARP funds that have already been earmarked for the auto industry brings the total in taxpayer aid going to auto companies to $110 billion.

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