WASHINGTON Feb 9 Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) has
applied for U.S. government financing to help it make electric
vehicles and develop the advanced batteries that power them,
the company said on Monday.
Nissan, which announced plans earlier in the day to cut
20,000 jobs worldwide in response to declining sales blamed on
recession, is the first Japanese automaker to seek
taxpayer-funded loans from the Energy Department to facilitate
its U.S. manufacturing plans.
Nissan did not disclose the amount of its loan request,
which was submitted in December but disclosed publicly by the
company on Monday.
Energy Department officials do not confirm or comment on
specific applicants. But Nissan said it plans to upgrade its
Smyrna, Tennessee, assembly plant, and build a new facility for
Nissan plans to bring an electric car to the United States
"We are committed to the vision of energy independence,
environmental sustainability, and the new energy economy, and
we are hopeful that the U.S. Department of Energy approves this
loan request," the company said in a statement.
The loan program approved by Congress in September was
established mainly to help struggling U.S. manufacturers make
upgrades necessary for producing cars and trucks that can meet
sharply higher fuel standards next decade.
General Motors Corp (GM.N), Ford Motor Co (F.N) and
Chrysler LLC have asked for nearly $22 billion in financing
combined. Honda Motor Co Ltd's (7267.T) and Toyota Motor Corp
(7203.T) have not sought help, officials of both companies
Toyota currently is the global leader in gasoline-electric
GM plans to roll out its plug-in electric/hybird Chevrolet
Volt to consumers next year. Toyota, Ford and Chrysler all have
electric car ambitions.
Energy Department loan eligibility requirements favor
companies operating facilities older than 20 years, which gives
U.S. manufacturers a clear edge in gaining retooling money as
long as their proposals meet other requirements. New projects
are also considered. Nissan's Tennessee plant began operations
So far, the Energy Department has received 75 applications
and Nissan is among 26 that have cleared initial hurdles, the
(Reporting by John Crawley; Editing by Bernard Orr)