Capital investments in the emerging green-vehicle business are beginning to add up to some serious dough.
Last Monday, Ford Motor Co. announced a $135 million project to build battery packs and transaxles in Michigan for its new generation of hybrid-electric vehicles, due in 2012. Ford already is spending $900 million to convert an assembly plant from producing the Expedition and Lincoln Navigator to building the Focus, electric Focus and plug-in electric Focus.
Two days later, Nissan North America Inc. broke ground on its $1.6 billion project to build battery packs and assemble the electric Leaf sedan in Smyrna, Tenn.
Toyota Motor Corp. already had jumped in, spending $50 million to acquire a stake in Tesla Motors Inc. Toyota said -- somewhat vaguely -- that Tesla will buy Toyota's closed New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant in Fremont, Calif., and spend about $200 million converting it for electric-car manufacturing.
Those are big bucks. And they are probably the tip of the iceberg. Ford is sitting on $5.9 billion in low-interest U.S. Department of Energy loans to help it ease into more fuel-efficient products.
Meanwhile, on the same day that Toyota and Tesla unveiled the NUMMI deal, a relatively unknown startup -- Coda Automotive, of Santa Monica, Calif. -- said it has raised $58 million from investors, including EDB Investments, of Singapore, to launch electric-vehicle manufacturing for the United States.
That gives Coda $125 million to fund its plan to create and introduce an electric four-passenger sedan by the end of this year.