WASHINGTON -- Ford Motor Co. executives say they expect robust additional funding for a program of low-interest government loans to help automakers and suppliers retool for more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Congress and the Bush administration last September approved funding for an initial $25 billion in retooling loans. Ford has applied for $11 billion. No loans have been granted.
The Ford executives, speaking last night on the sidelines of the Washington Auto Show, say they are optimistic about policies from the Obama administration and Congress, despite the gloom surrounding the industry.
Bruce Andrews, Fords vice president for government affairs, said he believes the program will be robustly funded because President Barack Obama likes it and some congressional Democratic leaders are enthusiastic about it.
The retooling program is separate from the $17.4 billion in emergency loans the government has pledged so far to General Motors and Chrysler LLC to maintain operations. Ford says it will seek access to emergency loans only if the economy gets much worse.
Separately, Sue Cischke, Fords group vice president for sustainability, environment and safety engineering, said she sees opportunity in Obamas decision to have the EPA review Californias request for permission to enforce rules on greenhouse gases from vehicles.
Obama could have ordered the waiver granted as soon as he took office, Cischke said. Instead, she said, there is now time to get federal agencies and the states to work together to do whats good for the country.
Industry leaders say they need a national system to regulate greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, and fuel economy instead of a patchwork of state and federal rules.
Andrews, Cischke and Nancy Gioia, Fords director of sustainable mobility technologies and hybrid vehicle programs, spoke with reporters before todays public policy day at the Washington show.
Ford announced today that Johnson Controls-Saft will supply the battery system for Fords first production plug-in electric hybrid, planned for 2012.
Ford also announced more participants in a program of testing Ford Escapes that have been built as plug-in electric hybrids. The new participants, Ford said, are utilities in New York, Ohio, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan and Massachusetts, as well as the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority.