The U.S. government said Wednesday it plans to dole out $2.4 billion in grants to 48 automotive battery and electric drive research and manufacturing projects, part of a push to accelerate the development of electric cars.
Johnson Controls and A123 Systems are the two of the biggest award winners. Johnson Controls is set to receive $299.2 million while A123 will get $249.1 million. The Big Three automakers also have lined up grants (see list of winners). In fact, General Motors is getting three grants totaling $241.4 million.
But not all of the applicants walked away with cash. Boston Power applied for $100 million to build its first factory in the United States but is not on the list.
The Westborough, Mass.-based startup already has lined up a funding commitment from Massachusetts, which could provide up to $9 million for the factory near Boston-Power's headquarters, and has amassed $125 million in venture funding. UPDATE: Boston-Power's CEO Christina Lampe-Onnerud told Greentech Media she's disappointed with the outcome, but is hopeful that the company could still get $100 million from another federal source.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 created the DOE grant program to give car and components makers a boost in a sagging economy. Grant recipients are expected to match the funding with $2.4 billion of their own money.
The automotive industry has been one of the biggest recipients of government largess over the past year. The government gave billions to General Motors and Chrysler in order to keep them afloat while they figured out turn-around plans, and in process become a major shareholder of GM (see GM Finds New Life with eBay Deal, BYD Wants Green Bus Maker).
The government also just spent $1 billion to provide rebates for consumers to trade in their clunkers for more fuel-efficient ones. The U.S. Senate could extend that program by pouring a couple more billion into it.
"If we want to reduce our dependence on oil, put Americans back to work and reassert our manufacturing sector as one of the greatest in the world, we must produce the advanced, efficient vehicles of the future," said President Obama in a statement.
The grant announcement was such a big deal that the administration dispatched Vice President Joe Biden, Energy Secretary Steve Chu, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke across the country to highlight some of the grants and their recipients (see map of grant recipients).
Many automakers are gearing up for the launch of plug-in hybrids or all-electric cars in the consumer market in 2010. But mass adoption of these cars won't happen for years.
Besides Boston-Power, other companies who applied but didn't receive money include Quallion and Valence Technology and Planar Energy Devices (see Quallion Seeks DOE Grants for 'Anti-Idling' Batteries).
Administered by the U.S. Department of Energy, the grant program is giving out $1.5 billion to manufacture batteries and their parts; $500 million for making electric drive components such as motors and power electronics; and $400 million to buy thousands of plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars for demonstration projects and to install charging networks.
The Electric Transportation Engineering Corp. (eTec), a subsidiary of Ecotality, is getting $99.8 million to set up a car charging network. The company is partnering with Nissan to carry out the project in five states: Arizona, California, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington. The project will make use of Nissan's all-electric Leaf; the carmaker unveiled the commercial version of the car this past weekend.
Grant winners also include EnerDel ($118.5 million), Compact Power ($151.4 million), Saft America ($95.5 million) and Smith Electric Vehicles ($10 million).