Trump budget plan dismiss energy grants and auto loan program

U.S. administration proposed this week discharging Energy Department loan programs and some research funding for energy-efficient technology and electric vehicle development at three carmakers since the industry is changing course to electric and self-driving vehicles.

Draft of the budget proposal of the White House administration ending the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-e, program, which gives $300 million a year in grants for research in technologies aimed at reducing fossil-fuel consumption and improving energy efficiency.

The program, created in 2007 under President George W. Bush, has supported research into micro-organisms that produce replacements for petroleum, battery storage systems, improving window-pane efficiency and technology that allows vehicles to communicate to avoid crashes.

The Trump budget proposes scrapping the ARPA-e and two energy loan programs

The Trump budget proposes scrapping the ARPA-e program, along with two energy loan programs because the “private sector is better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies.”

The White House would also remove a U.S. Energy Department clean vehicle loan program which heled a lot to Tesla Inc., Nissan Motor Co. and Ford Motor Co. during the last industry downturn, but has not funded a new project in six years.

The program backed two losers. Startup automaker Fisker Automotive Inc. and Michigan-based Vehicle Program Group shut down despite government support. Taxpayers lost $139 million on loans to Fisker and the Vehicle Program Group, which planned to build wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

The Obama administration in March 2015 proposed awarding Alcoa Corp. a $259 million loan to help build high-strength aluminum at a Tennessee plant, but never paid it out. A spokeswoman for Arconic Inc, which split from Alcoa, did not immediately comment on Thursday.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade association, declined to comment on Thursday on the budget proposal, saying it was reviewing it.


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