House Democrats seek to expand loan program for fuel-efficient vehicle projects

Washington – Two House Democrats introduced a bill on April 1 that would expand a loan program within the Department of Energy for projects that engage in the production of fuel-efficient vehicles and parts.

The bill, sponsored by Representatives Debbie Dingell of Michigan and Julia Brownley of California, would update the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program by expanding the definition of eligible borrowers to include “ultra-vehicles. efficient ”, as well as light vehicles. and medium-duty passenger vehicles and heavy-duty vehicles that meet emission standards set by the EPA or emit zero emissions.

The measure – dubbed the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Future Act – would also support the development of electric vehicle batteries, strengthen existing wage requirements for workers, update an applicant’s assessment of an applicant’s prospects of repaying a loan under of the program and would invest $ 10 million in the program each year through 2031, according to the text of the bill.

The bill does not yet have bipartisan support, a congressional adviser said.

“Through the ATVM Future Act, we can strengthen the national supply chain, build electric vehicle batteries in this country, and provide domestic manufacturers with the funding to re-equip factories, so they can bring in new cars. on our streets, ”Dingell said in a statement. . “This loan program has proven its worth, but it must be modernized to meet the demands of today and tomorrow.

In a six-page letter to President Joe Biden, major auto industry groups urged the White House to consider a “holistic approach” to electric vehicles and a net-zero carbon transportation future that includes supply policies and demand.

In the letter, the three groups – the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, and the UAW – also suggested expanding, modernizing and funding the Ministry of Transportation’s ATVM grant and loan program. ‘Energy.

The ministry’s loan program was created in 2007 to help automakers meet vehicle fuel economy standards and encourage the production of more fuel-efficient passenger cars and trucks in the United States.

The program has loaned more than $ 8 billion to automakers for investments in their manufacturing operations and has supported the production of more than 4 million high-tech vehicles, according to the department.

The automakers who have used the program are Tesla, Nissan and Ford.

“While the light vehicle (zero emission vehicle) market has experienced significant growth, the bus and truck market is still in its infancy,” Brownley said in a statement. “If we are to dominate and compete with the rest of the world in this growing market and create well-paying jobs in the United States, federal support is needed to provide a much needed boost in the manufacturing of medium and heavy vehicles to zero emissions. “

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