Ford Motor Company, Nissan North America Inc, and Tesla Motors Inc were the first automakers to be granted federal loans totaling $8 billion to develop electric cars and fuel-efficient vehicles made in the United States.

“We have an historic opportunity to help ensure that the next generation of fuel-efficient cars and trucks are made in America,” President Barack Obama said in a statement released by the Department of Energy.

President Obama's administration is hoping the companies will help create so called green jobs” to reduce imports of foreign oil and reduce carbon emissions from transportation which represent a fifth of the nation's total emissions, according to the Department of Energy.

Ford Motor Company was granted $5.9 billion to transform factories across the U.S. to produce 13 more fuel efficient models - including new hybrid technologies, the DOE announced today.

Nissan North America was given $1.6 billion to retool its Smyrna, Tennessee factory to build electric cars and to build a lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility for its vehicles.

Tesla Motors was granted $465 million to manufacture its Model S electric car beginning in 2011 and ramp up to 20,000 vehicles per year by the end of 2013, the DOE announcement said. Tesla will also support a facility to manufacture battery packs and electric drive trains to be used in Tesla's vehicles and in cars built by other companies, including the Smart For Two city car by Daimler.

The loans are part of the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program which will provide about $25 billion in loans to companies making cars and components in US factories that increase fuel economy at least 25 percent above 2005 fuel economy levels.

The Department of Energy received more than a hundred applications for loans to help achieve greater fuel efficiency.