[Image above] If finalized, a $259-million loan from the Department of Energy could boost Alcoa’s aluminum capacity at the company’s Tennessee plant. Alumnium is a key material in creating lightweight vehicles that are more efficient and affordable. Credit: Josh Hallett; Flickr CC BY 2.0

The Obama administration wants to provide Americans with cars that are more affordable and efficient. It also wants to strengthen U.S. manufacturing and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The administration hopes to achieve both through a conditional commitment to Alcoa for a $259-million loan—the first issued under the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.

It’s expected that, if finalized, the loan will support increased production of aluminum—a key material in attempts to lightweight vehicles—at the company’s Alcoa, Tennessee plant.

“The Department’s ATVM loan program can play an important role in helping to finance expanded domestic manufacturing of fuel-efficient technologies that will support the next generation of advanced vehicles and protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” says Secretary Ernest Moniz in a DOE news release. “To date, the program has supported the production of millions of American-made cars that are more fuel-efficient and technologically advanced than previous models.”

In addition to boosting manufacturing capacity at the U.S. aluminum plant, the monies will help to create 200 permanent jobs and 400 construction positions.

“Alcoa’s innovative, high-strength aluminum solutions are leading the lightweighting revolution now happening in the automotive industry,” says Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa chairman and CEO. “Alcoa is pleased to be part of the government’s program to encourage a greater shift to aluminum intensive vehicles that are safer, lighter, and more fuel-efficient.”

According to the DOE, the ATVM program has issued more than $8 billion in loans, which translates to 9 million cars and the creation of close to 35,000 jobs in eight U.S. states.