Supplies of aluminum have been tight in recent years, prompting a round of investments by Alcoa. The company projected in 2013 that its sales of aluminum sheet to automakers would more than triple to $580 million in 2015 from $160 million in 2012.
The permit form doesn’t indicate that the expanded Tennessee plant will supply aluminum to the F-150. Alcoa and Novelis Inc. are aluminum vendors for the redesigned pickup.
Alcoa has already disclosed to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that the Tennessee expansion project will cost $275 million and create 200 permanent jobs once completed in mid-2015.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced in April that DOE has re-purposed the program to be more attractive to auto suppliers, responding to complaints that the program was tilted toward automakers and was difficult to navigate.
“We’ve taken concrete steps to make the program easier to work with and more responsive,” he said at a meeting of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, a supplier trade group. DOE disclosed at the time that it was in active talks with an automotive supplier for a loan, but would not say which company.
As part of the announcement, the department said it still had $16 billion in low-interest financing available to support efficient-vehicle programs.
“I just want to leave you with a clear statement,” Moniz said at the April 2 event. “The DOE and the ATVM program are open for business.”
The form obtained by Automotive News was signed by Alcoa location manager Ken McMillen on May 5 and by the DOE’s Matthew McMillen on May 6. The officials are not related, Alcoa’s Lecker said.
The form does not say how much money DOE has proposed to lend Alcoa for the Tennessee project. 289
After the project, Alcoa’s factory would be able to produce another 640 million pounds per year of cold-rolled aluminum, of which 300 million pounds could be heat-treated.