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News Update on Aluminum, Loans and Alcoa Inc. Part I


It should come as no surprise that, in the cyclic view of aluminum and its effect on society and the collision repair industry, things would begin to spin and spin pulling in every possible money making angle as is possible. In the case of Alcoa Inc., this is an aluminum production site at a Tennessee factory, the U.S. Department of Energy has proposed lending money to the tune of $25 billion, to expand this production site. This would be the first induction given to a supplier under a dormant fund.

The loan is intended to help the largest U.S. aluminum producer to expand a 100-year-old factory according to an environments permit form signed in early May by Alcoa and DOE representatives.

Alcoa completed a $300 million expansion in January at its factory in Davenport, Iowa, to supply automakers including Ford Motor Co. The automaker plans to use hundreds of pounds of lightweight aluminum in the body of the redesigned 2015 Ford F-150 pickup truck to reduce weight and help met toughening U.S. fuel-economy requirements.

“This investment will help auto manufacturers make safe, fuel-efficient vehicles that consumers want,” Alcoa CEO Klaus Kleinfeld said in August, when the company held a groundbreaking ceremony for the plant expansion. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation attended.

Ford, Nissan Motor Corp., Tesla Motors Inc. and Fisker Automotive Inc. have previously tapped the fund for clean-vehicle manufacturing projects. The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program was created by Congress in 2007 but hasn’t approved a loan since 2011.

Experts attribute the falloff to the fact that capital is now cheaper than it was during the financial crisis. But the low-interest loans also grew less attractive to the private sector when DOE’s broader loan portfolio drew fire from Republicans who cited the high-profile bankruptcies of Fisker and the solar panel company Solyndra.

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