DETROIT -- General Motors Co. is in line to receive several billion dollars of low-interest federal energy loans now that it has returned to financial viability.
GM would use the windfall to outfit U.S. plants that make its most fuel-efficient vehicles and powertrains.
GM has applied for $14.4 billion in loans from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, which last year approved $5.9 billion in loans to Ford Motor Co. through 2011.
Also, $1.4 billion went to Nissan North America; $465 million to Tesla Motors; and $529 million to Fisker Automotive.
GM could hear as early as the next quarter what portion of its application will be granted, said GM spokesman Greg Martin. He cautioned that the loans aren't a sure thing.
GM and Chrysler's applications were put on hold last year when their bankruptcies called into question their financial viability. Qualifying companies have to be viable under the program.
Chrysler Group also is working with DOE on a loan application, said Chrysler spokesman Nick Cappa. He would not reveal the amount of the Chrysler request.
The DOE program was funded by Congress in 2008 at $25 billion for renovating older plants to build vehicles that get at least 25 percent better fuel economy than their predecessors. About $8.5 billion of the total has been pledged to projects.
Ford's $5.9 billion award was about half of the $11 billion it had requested. For comparison, Ford's 2009 global capital expenditures budget was $4.5 billion. Ford spokesman Mike Moran said the DOE funds are dispersed after the work is done.
With two quarters of profitability in hand, $32 billion in cash and an initial public offering in the works, GM has clearly returned to viability, said Dave Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Cole said the federal money would be used to offset costs of retooling GM's Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant, where the Chevrolet Cruze compact is being produced, and the Detroit-Hamtramck, Mich., assembly plant, where the Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric hybrid is being built.
Another factory that could benefit is the Orion assembly plant outside Detroit, Cole said. Orion would become the first U.S. assembly plant to build a B-segment or subcompact vehicle -- the next-generation Chevrolet Aveo -- when it reopens, as scheduled, next year.