U.S. automaker loans to include supply improvement

While the recent United States $25 billion program to help automakers meet upcoming efficiency standards drew headlines for sizeable cash going to Ford Motor Co. and Nissan, respectively, a significant portion will also help suppliers as well.

According to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, additional loans will be awarded to "large and small automobile manufacturers and parts suppliers up and down the production chain" over the coming months.

Equally significant is that automotive manufacturers have agreed much of the money will go toward retooling plants. Ford says it will use its $5.9 billion loan to retool plants in five states and boost the fuel efficiency of close to two million new vehicles annually.

Nissan said it will use its loans to modify its Tennessee plant to produce zero-emissions electric vehicles and the lithium-ion battery packs to power them.

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