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Nissan Motor Co. is likely to receive more than ¥100 billion in low-interest loans set up by the U.S. government to promote the development of and transition to electric vehicles and other fuel-efficient cars, sources said Friday.

Nissan is the first foreign automaker that is close to winning approval for the direct loans, which would enable Japan’s third-largest automaker to research the production of zero-emission electric vehicles in the United States.

Left out of the fierce competition between Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. over low-priced hybrids, Nissan apparently hopes to boost its green-car technology with financial support from the U.S. government.

In a stark departure from George W. Bush’s policies, President Barack Obama has advocated a Green New Deal that calls for shoring up the economy and creating jobs through heavy investment in environmental technologies.

To qualify for the loans, foreign companies need to cooperate with the U.S. government to accelerate the development and spread of green technology, the sources said.

Access to the U.S. loans is likely to alter Nissan’s global production plans for electric vehicles.

Nissan plans to roll out an electric vehicle in both Japan and the U.S. in fiscal 2010 and has already decided to make the model at its plant in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.

The company is also studying producing electric vehicles locally in China, where it hopes to begin selling the cars by the beginning of 2011.

The U.S. government has set aside $25 billion (about ¥2.35 trillion) in direct loans from its greening program to support advances in fuel economy and the establishment of manufacturing facilities in the U.S. for green cars.

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