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Pushing America’s Automotive Industry Forward

January 12, 2015 - 4:12pm


Infographic courtesy of the White House.

Infographic courtesy of the White House.

The auto industry is back -- and the Department of Energy has helped to make it even stronger.

Since 2009, the Energy Department has issued more than $8 billion in loans to companies through the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) program, including $5.9 billion to the Ford Motor Company. The financing provided to Ford was used to upgrade 13 factories in six states to improve the fuel efficiency of popular models -- including the factory that President Obama visited in Detroit last week.

The Department of Energy’s investments have resulted in the production of more than 4 million advanced, fuel-efficient vehicles, supporting the creation of approximately 35,000 direct jobs and saving more than 900 million gallons of gasoline. And since the President took office, the U.S. auto industry as a whole has created more than half a million new jobs.

But we are not simply helping the auto industry recover. We are taking steps to enable the auto industry of the future.

To further strengthen the President’s efforts, the Department of Energy is pushing breakthroughs in batteries and energy storage, like those taking place at Argonne National Laboratory's innovation hub, the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR). And we play a critical role in the President's National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) -- an interagency initiative made up of public/private partnerships devoted to manufacturing excellence. The President announced the latest NNMI innovation hub, focusing on advanced composite materials and partnering with the auto industry, just last week. 

We're also supporting manufacturers who want energy efficient vehicles to be a world-leading American-made product. The facilities supported by the Department of Energy are producing some of the world’s most popular and fuel-efficient models, like the Ford Focus. And more than half a million Ford F-150s, America’s most popular pickup truck, with EcoBoost have been sold to date.

By investing in the infrastructure manufacturers needed to create high-quality energy efficient vehicles, we are helping to build the strong base necessary to create new economic opportunities -- including a now well-established market for electric vehicles (EVs). Today, America has the largest EV market in the world, and the Administration has played a key role in the growth of this clean, affordable and secure form of American energy.

The EV Everywhere Grand Challenge calls for the U.S. to become the first nation in the world to produce plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) that are as affordable and convenient for the average American family as today's gasoline-powered vehicles by 2022. Accomplishing this goal will include research into advanced batteries, lightweight materials, electric motors and power electronics.

Thanks in part to the Department’s efforts, the modeled, high-volume cost of PEV batteries has dropped more than 40 percent lower than the EV Everywhere baseline cost established in 2012. Overall, the cost of the commercial EV is on a steady downward trajectory, which is good news for the American consumer and the environment.

The Department is also working with industry, academia and our own National Labs to tackle other challenges. We’re making progress toward an aggressive goal of $125/kwh of battery storage by 2022. At that point, ownership costs for a 240-mile EV will be equal to a standard vehicle. And we’re supporting development of a robust charging infrastructure. Workplace charging, new EV-friendly municipal codes for public and private parking facilities and an expanding network of so-called “fast chargers” -- which can charge an EV much quicker than standard chargers -- can all help create a more EV-friendly environment and drive continued success.

The Department of Energy will continue to support the auto industry of the future. The ATVM program has more than $16 billion in remaining loan authority, and can play a critical role in helping manufacturers and suppliers meet stronger fuel economy standards, expanding American manufacturing and supporting the resurgence of the American auto industry.

This was clearly the case with Tesla, whose $465 million ATVM loan enabled it to reopen a shuttered auto manufacturing plant in Fremont, California, and to produce battery packs, electric motors and other powertrain components. Tesla created more than 3,000 full-time jobs in California and now expects to create 3,000 construction jobs and 6,500 factory jobs in Nevada once its new factory is fully online in 2020.

The Department will continue to work with industry at the cutting edge to advance technologies and support innovation -- including advanced manufacturing technologies, like 3D printing -- and sustainable transportation systems. In fact, our Oak Ridge National Laboratory recently printed a car! It’s going to be an exciting ride.