Chrysler may lose green car competitiveness if U.S. loan is not awarded image

Chrysler Group risks falling behind its competitors in making hybrid and electric vehicles if it doesn’t receive the U.S. Energy Department loan it applied for, according to two automotive analysts quoted by Bloomberg.

Chrysler’s promised $3.5 billion loan has been held up most likely because of the change in ownership that gave Fiat a majority stake last year, said Michigan U.S. senator Debbie Stabenow. The Energy Department has so far awarded $8.4 billion since 2009 as part of a $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program. Nissan Motor Company, Tesla Motors and Ford Motor Company have been recipients of federal loans.

“We’re continuing to talk. Chrysler is one of the manufacturers, as well as Ford and GM, that is rebounding. I’m happy with that,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu was quoted as saying by Bloomberg. He didn’t say when or whether Chrysler will get a loan.

According to analysts, Chrysler must be able to offer more to compete in the segment of hybrid and electric vehicles. “It really is a critical juncture. What I’m seeing today is everybody’s really trying to cover all their bases,” Lacey Plache, chief economist for auto researce Edmunds.com told Bloomberg. Chrysler plans to introduce an all-eletric Fiat 500 in the U.S. at the start of 2013.