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Tesla cashes multi-million dollar govt cheque

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Leccy Tech Tesla Motors has secured itself a whopping funding package from the US government which the company plans to use to further its standing in the e-car business.

Under the terms of the deal, the Californian firm will receive $465m (£285m/€333m) of US federal wonga.

The grant will be in the form of low interest loans from the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program (ATVMP) – a federally funded loans scheme for car firms and related businesses to help cover the cost of re-equipping, expanding or establishing US-based manufacturing facilities for production of advanced technology and low emission motors.

Of that sum, Tesla plans to use roughly $100m to create an electric vehicle drive train manufacturing facility where motors, chargers, control systems and battery packs for Tesla's own vehicles and for third-party car makers will be built.

The remaining $365m will be used by Tesla to build a production factory for the gorgeous Model S e-car, which the firm plans to release in North America during 2011.

Both plants will be in Tesla's home state of California, and it’s believed that the firm’s already in negotiations over several potential plots.

But the value of the Obama administration's handout to Tesla pales in comparison to the value of its loans to other car firms.

For example, Nissan’s received a $1.6bn (£980m/€1.15bn) loan to expand its factory in Tennessee, with the aim of producing 150,000 electric vehicles and 200,000 battery packs per annum from late 2012.

Ford’s also set to receive $5.9bn (£3.6bn/€4.2bn), which it’ll use to improve fuel efficiency across its range. The cash will also be used to develop Ford’s EV line-up, including its leccy van fleet currently in development with UK firm Smith Electric Vehicles.

Since both General Motors and Chrysler are currently undergoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, neither firm was eligible for grants under the current round of ATVMP funding.

But, more to the point, both car firms have already been on the receiving end of substantial amounts of US tax dollars.

In total the ATVMP has provision to loan $25bn (£15.3bn/€18bn) in funds and, during this first round of disbursement, one-third of the money was allocated. ®

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