My ATVM Loan and ARRA Battery Grant Preview

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John Petersen

The next few days are going to be a very exciting time in the energy storage and electric vehicle sectors because the Obama Administration is preparing to announce a series of major ATVM Loan and ARRA Battery Manufacturing Grant awards.

President Obama will be in Elkhart, Indiana where he will presumably announce an ATVM loan to Navistar (NAV) and may announce some additional ATVM loans or ARRA battery grants. Vice President Biden will be in Detroit where he is scheduled to announce one or more ARRA battery grants and perhaps some ATVM Loans. Secretary Chu will be in Charlotte, North Carolina where he will presumably announce an ARRA battery grant to the Celgard subsidiary of Polypore International (PPO) and may announce other ARRA battery grants or ATVM loans.

I’ve resisted the temptation to wade in and predict the likely winners of the ARRA Battery Grant contest because there are so many deserving companies and many of them are privately held. But since The Wall Street Journal is making predictions I guess there’s no harm in handicapping the “Cell and Battery Pack Manufacturing Facilities” category which is expected to include 7 to 8 awards of $100 to $150 million each. My list of likely grand prize winners is:

1.   A123 Systems;
2.   Ener1 (HEV);
3.   JCI/Saft, a joint venture between Johnson Controls (JCI) and France’s Saft Batteries (SGPEF.PK);
4.   General Electric (GE); and
5.   Somebody from the lead-acid battery sector.

Trying to round out the top tier list with any more detail is almost impossible and while I have my personal favorites, my opinion and $5 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks (SBUX).

The original funding opportunity announcement broke the ARRA grants down into several categories as follows:

Industry subsector Total Funding Awards Award Size
Cell and Battery Pack Manufacturing Facilities $1,200 million 7 to 8 $100 to $150 million
Advanced Battery Supplier Manufacturing Facilities $275 million 14 $20 million
Advanced Lithium ion Battery Recycling Facilities $25 million 2 $12.5 million
Electric Drive Component Manufacturing Facilities $350 million 3 to 5 $80 million
Electric Drive Subcomponent Manufacturing Facilities $150 million 6 to 8 $20 million

I have a hard time imagining that the Administration will announce a total of 32 to 37 grants in just three events. Accordingly I expect the process to draw out at least into tomorrow and perhaps into next week. In any event, I suppose we’ll know more this afternoon than we do this morning.


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