DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. executives are hoping for billions of additional dollars in government technology loans if congressional efforts to double the amount of money are successful.
Ford, the only U.S. automaker operating without federal bailout money, applied for $11 billion in technology loans. All of Fords projects were approved by the Department of Energy, said Sue Cischke, Ford group vice president of sustainability, environment and safety engineering.
But the $5.9 billion awarded to the company today is probably all that Ford will receive out of the $25 billion pool currently available.
If they raise the appropriations from the $25 billion to the $50 billion, we qualify -- so well see, Cischke said.
The money announced for Ford today will reach the automaker as it does the work and spends the money. The first check could arrive within the next couple of months, she said. Some financial paperwork must be completed.
The initial loan money will be for work that dates back to December 2008 on projects such as Ford's electric vehicles and the turbocharging and direct-injection strategy known as EcoBoost, Cischke said. The money will be doled out through 2011, and payback will begin in 2012.
Ford qualified for loan assistance on projects affecting 13 nameplates and 11 factories in five states.
Vehicles include a electric Transit Connect small commercial van slated to go on sale in 2010 and an electric Ford Focus that will follow in 2011. Other approved projects involve six-speed transmissions and hybrid and ethanol-powered vehicles.
The loans give Ford access to money at low single-digit interest rates. Ford spokesman Mike Moran said todays interest rate on the loans will be 3.7 percent, compared with 13 to 15 percent if the company had tapped market-rate credit, he said.
Cischke said she hopes the public will distinguish these loans from the bailout money that Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors have received. Congress passed the original legislation in December 2007 and appropriated the money last fall.
People need to understand that this is money that was separated a long time ago, actually before the economic crisis, she said. I hope people do see it as different because it's very different. It's not emergency money.
This is not about viability. This is about investment in the future and in fuel-efficient technologies that we need, and it helps us accelerate that.
And it wont give the government any ownership of or control over Fords projects.
Said Cischke: We decide what we're working on.