Cash for conserving cars

Feds doling out billions to automakers

The U.S. Department of Energy is lending billions of dollars to auto manufacturers in an effort to help the struggling companies develop fuel-efficient vehicles.

Early recipients of the $25 billion in loans include Ford Motor Co. ($5.9 billion), Nissan Motor Co. ($1.6 billion) and Tesla Motors Inc. ($465 million).

Energy officials say the money will help automakers rise to the challenge of meeting new fuel-efficiency standards that require a minimum of 35 mpg by 2020.

In a recent statement, Steven Chu, the new energy secretary under the Obama administration, said the money not only will boost the production, but also will help the country in other ways—“by creating new jobs, reducing our dependence on oil and reducing our greenhouse-gas emissions.”