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US govt cash to fund Tesla minivan?

Utility vehicles to expand firm's e-car line-up

Tesla Model S

Leccy Tech Tesla will use some of the millions of dollars lent by the US government to develop an electric minivan, a company executive has hinted.

The Californian firm secured itself a $465m (£285m/€333m) low interest loan from the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program (ATVMP) back in June.

ATVMP is available to car firms and related businesses re-equipping, expanding or establishing US-based manufacturing facilities for production of advanced technology and low-emission motors.

Tesla hasn’t received any of the cash yet, but has already said that roughly $100m will be used to create an electric vehicle drive train manufacturing facility.

The remaining $365m has been earmarked for development of a production factory for the Model S e-car – set for release into North America during 2011.

However, Diarmuid O'Connell, VP of business development at Tesla, has since hinted that some of the cash will also help fund development of a wider e-vehicle range.

“The Model S platform will also be used for derivatives including a minivan, cross-over utility vehicle and a utility van for fleets and other industrial or civic uses,” O'Connell said on an official company blog.

The comment suggests that the ATVMP cash will be indirectly used for the development of – presumably electric – minivans, utility vehicles, et al.

Sadly, O'Connell hasn’t yet released any technical details or pictures of the upcoming vehicles. ®

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