CASA GRANDE — A federal loan program that could assist Lucid Motors in building its electric car assembly plant in Casa Grande is not included in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.
The California-based company is pursuing a loan from the U.S. Energy Department’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program to develop a $700 million production facility, according to the Washington Post.
The federal program has disbursed billion-dollar loans to car companies like Ford and Nissan to implement fuel-efficient technology, and Lucid is applying to be another recipient.
The Post reported on Wednesday that Lucid had its electric vehicles parked outside the Energy Department in Washington earlier this week — a few days after the Trump administration released a blueprint budget that eliminates the loan program.
The Energy Department would lose 6 percent in funding under Trump’s budget, though Congress is likely to make changes when it begins passing appropriations bills.
The administration’s budget proposal states ATVM loans should be cut because the private sector is better suited to finance energy research and commercialize innovative technologies.
An Energy Department loan is one of several funding avenues being pursued by Lucid, according to David Salguero, the company’s marketing manager.
In a statement sent to PinalCentral, he said the federal program would not be necessary for Lucid to reach production and doesn’t impact the plant schedule in Casa Grande.
Lucid selected a 500-acre site near Thornton and Peters roads to build an assembly plant last year and plans to break ground in 2017. The 10-year-old startup has reported having up to $130 million in capital from investors in the U.S. and China.
The ATVM program was established a decade ago and notably helped Tesla, a leader in the electric car market, build its manufacturing plant in California. Another large loan was given to Fisker Automotive, which later declared bankruptcy.
U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., said the federal program has been a “lifeline” for innovative companies. The congressman, whose district encompasses Casa Grande, said he doesn’t support efforts to cut the loan program.
“If we want to get serious about creating high-paying jobs in all sectors of our economy, programs like this are an effective investment with longstanding, bipartisan support in Congress,” O’Halleran said in a statement sent to PinalCentral.
Lucid projects at least 2,000 jobs will be created through its Casa Grande plant and the company is already working with Central Arizona College to develop certificate programs tailored to its manufacturing jobs.
Casa Grande Mayor Craig McFarland wasn’t aware of Lucid’s efforts to receive a federal loan but said he hopes the ATVM program remains active if it means Lucid will be better positioned to build.
Pinal County intends to buy the 500 acres Lucid would develop and then sell the land to Lucid over a five-year period. A county spokesman chose not to comment at this time on any impact that eliminating the ATVM program could have on the Lucid project.