Local battery maker seeking federal loans-WEB ONLY

Indianapolis battery developer EnerDel Inc. has applied for $480 million in low-interest federal loans through a new program intended to help U.S. automakers and their suppliers build more fuel-efficient cars.

EnerDel would use the money to double the manufacturing capacity at its plants in Indianapolis and Noblesville, lifting production of lithium-ion battery packs for hybrid vehicles to 600,000 by 2011. The funding also would help the company build a second, larger plant capable of producing 1.2 million packs a year by 2015.

The projects could create more than 1,300 jobs, EnerDel parent Ener1 Group Inc. said Jan. 2.

EnerDel employs about 100 at its Hague Road headquarters and another dozen at a facility on Herriman Road in Noblesville. It also has 300 employees in Korea.

The company said it has raised $200 million in the equity capital markets, but needs federal assistance to accelerate production capacity and remain.

EnerDel applied for the loans under the U.S. Department of Energy’s $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Incentive Program, established in 2007 and funded this fall.

More financial help for EnerDel could be available if Sen. Evan Bayh gets his way. At a Dec. 19 news conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Bayh urged his fellow lawmakers to include funding of next-generation vehicles and battery components as part of the automaker bailout plan Congress will consider this month.

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