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Ford will use its loans to retool its factories to produce more fuel efficient models, like the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, pictured here.  (Source: 2nd Green Revolution)

Steven Chu, US Energy Secretary and Nobel Prize winner
Ford reaps more benefits of not accepting government bailout funds

Ford will receive $5.9 billion in government loans to retool factories for production of fuel efficient vehicles, while Nissan will receive $1.6 billion. Tesla Motors also received approval for a $465 million loan.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu made the historic announcement at Ford headquarters. "By supporting key technologies and sound business plans, we can jump start the production of fuel-efficient vehicles in America," he said.

The loans are part of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, which provides incentives to new and established automakers to build more fuel-efficient vehicles, including hybrid and electric vehicles. The ATVMP was created in 2007 and appropriated funding in September 2008. The $25 billion program is supposed to reduce America’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil and create “green collar” jobs.

"These investments will come back to our country many times over by creating new jobs, reducing our dependence on oil, and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions," Chu said. "Ford will transform more than 35,000 jobs into green engineering and manufacturing jobs."

The program is not related to any economic stimulus package or bailout funding that General Motors and Chrysler have received. Although both companies also applied for funding under the ATVM program, they were deemed to not meet financial viability requirements of the program.  Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy earlier this month in an alliance with Fiat, while GM is still currently in Chapter 11 creditor protection.

Ford will receive the funds throughout 2011 to retool several factories in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri in order to produce 13 models. The firm previously announced plans to invest $550 million in retooling its Michigan Assembly plant to produce the all-new Ford Focus and an accompanying battery-electric variant. The Michigan Assembly Plant used to produce Ford's behemoth body-on-frame SUVs: the Ford Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator and is currently being retooled.

"We're changing from a company focused mainly on trucks and SUVs to a company with a balanced product lineup that includes even more high-quality, fuel-efficient small cars, hybrids and all-electric vehicles," said Ford's Mark Fields. "As customers move to more fuel-efficient vehicles, we'll be there with more of the products they really want."

"The transformation of Michigan Assembly Plant embodies the larger transformation under way at Ford," stated Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally. "This is about investing in modern, efficient and flexible American manufacturing. It is about fuel economy and the electrification of vehicles."

The loan is part of a $14 billion investment plan in advanced technology vehicles that Ford  wants to implement over the next seven years.

A large portion of funds is expected to go into development of a battery-electric version of the Ford Focus. According to Ford, the vehicle will feature an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. The vehicle is being developed in conjunction with Magna International and will go into production in 2011 as a 2012 model year vehicle.

Ford also has plans to market a battery-electric version of its upcoming Transit Connect commercial vehicle, a next generation hybrid, and a next generation plug-in hybrid by 2012.

Nissan's North American business unit will receive funds to retool its Smyrna, Tennessee facility to build electric cars. An advanced battery manufacturing plant is also being planned.

"Nissan expects to cut the costs of its batteries in half and ramp up production of 150,000 American-made competitively priced electric vehicles annually," Chu said, in a bid to deflect criticism of government loans to a Japanese company.

Nissan is Japan's third largest automaker. It plans to unveil its first electric vehicle model in Japan on August 2, with sales beginning next year. Nissan will sell those cars first in Japan, with US sales after April 2010. Global mass production will come in 2012.

"We are moving forward with zero-emission vehicles," said Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn at a shareholders' meeting. "The U.S. is going to be a very important market for the company's electric vehicle strategy".

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Hybrid Escape
By therealnickdanger on 6/25/2009 8:40:09 AM , Rating: 5
... is one sweet vehicle. I'm amazed the during all the buzz surrounding the Prius and Insight that the Hybrid Escape hasn't received more love. In addition to getting very good mileage, it's also so much more versatile than the Prius or Insight.

I love my shaggin' wagon Magnum's 5.0s 0-60 time, but I would not be opposed to buying a hybrid Escape as my daily driver. Well, I guess I'd really rather get the hybrid Tahoe, but that thing is retardedly expensive.

RE: Hybrid Escape
By Lord 666 on 6/25/2009 8:45:27 AM , Rating: 2
Interesting taste of vehicles there. From your 244DL 350 project, the Magnum, to the Escape Hybrid.

RE: Hybrid Escape
By therealnickdanger on 6/25/2009 10:38:42 AM , Rating: 2
LOL yeah, I live a varied life. I dunno, I have been told I'm weird by lots of people I trust, so take that as you will.

RE: Hybrid Escape
By Screwballl on 6/25/2009 11:51:45 AM , Rating: 2
Not weird, I would say much more realistic than many out there. Me and my 6'5" frame could not fit in any of these tiny hybrid cars, at least not comfortably.
I am also looking forward to hybrid or alt. fuel SUVs and minivans that get decent mileage (anything over 20mpg city for these would be great), that I can actually drive plus use in comfort and get my family (2 active daughters and wife) around safely.
It is good that they are doing the initial testing and product sales with these small cars but if they want to really start to get sales going they will start doing this in more minivans, crossovers and mid/full size SUVs and at a reasonable price.

RE: Hybrid Escape
By Samus on 6/25/2009 8:33:55 PM , Rating: 3
Cheers to the Ford Escape Hybrid. Thanks Mazda!

RE: Hybrid Escape
By lco45 on 6/25/2009 9:52:57 PM , Rating: 2
Hehe, nothing wrong with a little variety.

I have a Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.0l and two scooters (100CC and 200CC)!

I'm also into green/hi-tech cars, but can't justify the expense, esp. when my scooters get way better mileage than the best hybrids...

It will be good to see what tech comes out of this loan to Ford and others, bound to be some interesting times ahead.


RE: Hybrid Escape
By mdogs444 on 6/25/2009 8:47:52 AM , Rating: 3
Probably because anyone looking to buy a $30k+ compact SUV isn't doing it for the gas mileage. Especially considering you can get a standard Escape for more than $10k less. No way you're going to reap $10k benefits solely by using less fuel.

Although the concept is great and the car is nice, I think its just too expensive over a standard model to get an extra 10-12mpg or however much you save.

The Pruis and Insight have gotten so much attention (I think) because they are cars (not the evil SUV) and they are priced comparable to the nicer entry level models from both Honda & Toyota.

I have the Tahoe LTZ, but would never buy a Hybrid for it. In my opinion, if you're already purchasing a $50,000+ SUV, then you're not too worried about getting an additional 5MPG for $15,000 in added cost.

RE: Hybrid Escape
By HinderedHindsight on 6/25/2009 9:25:58 AM , Rating: 3
I purchased a 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid Limited back in February and it is an awesome car. The enhanced gas mileage alone is definitely not worth the extra 12 K , but between the hybrid technology and a slew of extra features that Ford dumped into the vehicle does offset the extra cost in my mind. The CVT drives much differently than your standard Escape with a 5 speed, and it feels more powerful and faster than the standard I4 Escape. It also frequently beats the EPA estimates by 2-3 mpg combined.

I do have a few gripes about it, but much fewer than any other car I've owned, and in my subjective opinion, it was worth the added cost. Overall though, I think it is more directly comparable to the Escape with a V6. The difference in fuel savings is more dramatic (16 mpg city/5 mpg highway/11 mpg combined difference) while the price differential isn't as high. I paid $34000 for a decked out FEH Limited (without AWD) while a decked out V6 FE would have run me over $27000. With the added Hybrid rebate available at the time, the price differential at this point is about $4000, between the added features that the V6 doesn't have, the much nicer ride, and the added gas mileage more than make up the difference to me.

And no offense to Prius owners if you love your car, but I considered it, and just couldn't get myself to buy one. Not because it's a Toyota, not because it's small, but because of the feel and design of the car. Plus, Toyota's tax credit ran a long time ago.

RE: Hybrid Escape
By therealnickdanger on 6/25/2009 10:37:07 AM , Rating: 2
I would only buy a used Hybrid Escape, some go for around 12K, so well worth it IMO. ;-)

RE: Hybrid Escape
By Noya on 6/25/2009 8:02:14 PM , Rating: 2
I would only buy a used

Completely agree. Buying a late model "creampuff" owned by a gray haired retiree is about the best deal for any vehicle.

On another note, at $30k+ I would prefer the luxury and acceleration of an Acura RDX/MDX or Lexus RX350 wanna be SUV.

RE: Hybrid Escape
By lco45 on 6/25/2009 9:54:41 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but mileage is still a big factor.
I love my Jeep, but I hate the cost of fueling it.
If I could get a hybrid jeep, or at least the same thing that used half the fuel I'd be loving it.


RE: Hybrid Escape
By freaqie on 6/30/2009 11:31:15 AM , Rating: 2
there are companies that adapt cars to dybrid/electric driving.
and although it can be expensive.
but it might be worth it looking into that.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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