Turning Clean Vehicle Innovation into Jobs: A New Loan from the ATVM and New Investments in Manufacturing

To build a strong competitive modern economy its not enough just to use the latest, best, cleanest technology, we also have to invest in people, plants, and technology. That's what the Department of Energy's ATVM program is doing around the country.

March 15, 2015

The following blog is by Zoe Lipman, Senior Policy Advisor for the BlueGreen Alliance.

The Department of Energy (DOE) Loan Programs office today announced a $259 million loan to Alcoa to upgrade and expand its Tennessee aluminum mill to produce specialized automotive grade aluminum to reduce weight and improve fuel economy in millions of cars and trucks. For the community in Alcoa, TN, near Knoxville, the project also means adding 200 full-time jobs at the plant in addition to 400 construction jobs carrying out the expansion project.

With this announcement, DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVM) is continuing and extending its track record of turning clean advanced vehicle innovation into jobs, manufacturing and growth.

>>Check out DOE’s blog and infographic here.

>>BGA partners including the United Steelworkers weigh in on the impact of the new loan and the ATVM program in our press release here

ATVM-truck-4

The innovation and investment doesn’t stop with Alcoa’s plants in Tennessee and Iowa. (Photo: Ford Motor Co)

The ATVM was created as part of the bipartisan 2007 energy bill.  It was designed to ensure that at the same time that we make big steps to  increased fuel economy and cut GHG emissions, we also invest in building the next generation of globally competitive advanced vehicle components and materials in the US, and position the US as a technology leader.

The specialty aluminum then heads to automakers like Ford who have also made multi-million dollar investments in tooling, robotics and worker training to enable the use of new materials and components. One of the highest profile uses of Alcoa’s aluminum is the Ford F-150 pickup—America’s best selling vehicle. The truck also makes extensive use of advanced high-strength steel and engine and transmission innovation. The result is a popular truck which is both dramatically more efficient and more powerful than the same vehicle was just a few years ago. Ford has also brought back thousands of jobs at the Dearborn, MI and Kansas City, MO plants, which build the F-150. Previous ATVM loans helped modernize and retool both these facilities.

That premise proved powerfully correct. Investment galvanized by the program helped underpin an earlier stronger recover of the manufacturing sector and one that is ongoing, while achieving unprecedented reductions in greenhouses gases.

The previous $8 billion in loans leveraged a total of $14 billion in investment in 17 facilities in 8 states, including support to supported build, expand or retool Ford engine, transmission and assembly plants in 6 states, as well as Nissan and Tesla plants Tennessee and California. Those investments added or retained 35,000 direct manufacturing jobs. At the same time the program has kept the taxpayer more than whole—while boosting jobs, tax revenues, and growth.

To build a strong competitive modern economy its not enough just to use the latest, best, cleanest technology, we also have to invest in people, plants, and technology.

>>Our updated factsheet providing more information on the ATVM program is available here.

To build a strong competitive modern economy its not enough just to use the latest, best, cleanest technology, we also have to invest in people, plants, and technology. With the new loan to Alcoa—and $16 billion in loan authority remaining accessible not just to major automakers, but to the hundreds of automotive suppliers making advanced engines, powertrains, electronics, materials and other advanced technology—the ATVM program extends its promise to communities across the country.

The diagram below provides a rough snapshot of the breadth of companies manufacturing fuel efficient vehicles and components.

ATVM-map-graphic-3

Suppliers across the country stand to benefit from the AVTM program

In 2011, BlueGreen Alliance members the United Auto Workers (UAW), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and National Wildlife Federation (NWF) released Supplying Ingenuity, a report identifying over 500 factories in 43 states that were already building the components, materials, and technology that contribute to achieving higher fuel economy. While the industry has grown and changed since 2011, companies like these across the auto supply chain stand to benefit from ATVM loans that could aid them in making new investments in innovation and growth. Interactive maps available here