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Energy Department Offers Conditional Commitment to Alcoa to Support Manufacturing of Aluminum for Automotive Sector

March 26, 2015 - 9:46am


As part of the Administration’s effort to support advanced vehicles that are more affordable for Americans to drive, strengthen U.S. leadership in manufacturing advanced vehicle technologies, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through increased fuel efficiency, the Department of Energy announced a conditional commitment for a $259 million loan to Alcoa Inc. today. This conditional commitment is the first issued by the Department under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program since Secretary Moniz announced a number of improvements to the program last year, and is the first step toward issuing a final loan to Alcoa. If finalized, the loan would support the company’s Alcoa, Tennessee, manufacturing facility, where the company will produce high-strength aluminum for North American automakers looking to lightweight their vehicles.   

“The Department’s ATVM loan program can play an important role in helping to finance expanded domestic manufacturing of fuel-efficient technologies that will support the next generation of advanced vehicles and protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Secretary Ernest Moniz. “To date, the program has supported the production of millions of American-made cars that are more fuel-efficient and technologically advanced than previous models.”

“Alcoa’s innovative, high-strength aluminum solutions are leading the light weighting revolution now happening in the automotive industry,” said Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Alcoa is pleased to be part of the government’s program to encourage a greater shift to aluminum intensive vehicles that are safer, lighter and more fuel-efficient.”

“This is good news for Alcoa and Tennessee,” said Senator Lamar Alexander. “Today, more than one-third of Tennessee manufacturing jobs are auto related, and investment in advanced manufacturing is an important part of how our state will continue to attract good-paying jobs.”

The plant’s expansion will provide additional aluminum sheet manufacturing capacity intended for the U.S. automotive market. This type of high-strength aluminum helps boost fuel economy by reducing vehicle weight while still maintaining safety. High volume models, such as the Ford F-150, are using aluminum intensive designs to boost fuel economy performance through lightweighting.

Alcoa estimates that its expanded production is expected to create an additional 200 permanent full-time jobs, in addition to 400 jobs at the peak of construction.   

Today’s conditional commitment is an important step toward issuing the loan, and the Department will continue to monitor the project’s development and work to reach a final agreement.  

The ATVM loan program enables the domestic manufacturing of advanced technology vehicles and components. To date, the Department’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) has helped accelerate the resurgence of American auto manufacturing by issuing more than $8 billion in direct loans which supported the production of more than 9 million cars and approximately 35,000 direct jobs across eight states.

Overall, the LPO supports a large, diverse portfolio of more than $30 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and commitments, supporting more than 30 closed and committed projects. The projects that LPO has supported include more than a dozen new or retooled auto manufacturing plants across the country, one of the world’s largest wind farms, and several of the world’s largest solar generation and thermal energy storage systems.