An all-electric vehicle is exhibited in Santa Monica, Calif.
An all-electric vehicle is exhibited in Santa Monica, Calif. - 
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Steve Chiotakis: Today, some news about government loans to carmakers. But it's not what you expect. It's all in the name of making a more fuel-efficient car. Energy Secretary Steven Chu will announce funding to help companies update their infrastructure so they can start building more gas-saving models. Here's Marketplace's Jeremy Hobson.

Steve Chiotakis: Up to $25 billion will be lent to carmakers, thanks to a program Congress passed in 2007 but didn't fund until last year. It requires that the money be used to make cars at least 25 percent more efficient than the ones they're replacing. The first recipients are reported to be Ford, Tesla and the Japanese automaker Nissan.

Nissan's Alan Buddendeck spoke with me from the company's Tokyo headquarters this morning. He says getting a loan would speed up production on a number of fronts:

Alan Buddendeck: The actual production of electric vehicles at some point in the United States, as well as the electric batteries, you know, the lithium ion batteries that are the heart of the vehicle if you will.

GM and Chrysler are reportedly not on the list for loans from the Energy Department, because they are not considered "financially viable" companies.

In New York, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson