Conventional wisdom and Senator Stabenow have it that the wily Chinese are after precious Americans secrets of how to make new energy cars. Never mind that Ford and GM loudly deny that they have any current plans to build or sell electric vehicles in China. That appears at least half true in the case of GM. GM doesn’t have plans. Its plans are made in China. GM completely outsourced the development of electric vehicles – along with other future technologies – to China.
According to the Wall Street Journal, GM and its Chinese joint venture partner SAIC plan “to jointly develop all-electric vehicles and components. Electric vehicles developed under the new agreement would be sold under SAIC and Shanghai GM brands.” A GM press release goes even further:
“Under the agreement, teams of SAIC, GM and PATAC engineers will work together to develop key components, as well as vehicle structures and architectures. Vehicles resulting from the partnership will be sold in China under Shanghai GM and SAIC brands. SAIC and GM will also use the architecture to build electric vehicles around the globe for their own purposes.”
So it’s not that the Chinese are ransoming super secret technology. The Chinese will develop the technology jointly with GM engineers at the The Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), SAIC’s and GM’s engineering and design joint venture in Shanghai.
Currently, the board of GM is in Shanghai for a weeklong board meeting and negotiations with SAIC. While they are at it, they inaugurated another new research center in Shanghai. Located next to the GM China Headquarters, the GM China Advanced Technical Center (ATC) “will carry out important research and development for GM on a worldwide basis.”
More than 300 employees, including engineers, designers, researchers and technicians, will develop GM’s future technology right here in China. Says the press release:
“The first phase – the Advanced Materials Laboratory Building – includes a battery cell testing lab, battery material lab, metallography and electrochemical lab, cell fabrication lab, and micro-foundry and formability lab. It will focus on research in lightweight materials and battery cells for the development of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, extended-range electric vehicles and other advanced technology vehicles.”
It was good that GM kept its U.S. President Mark Reuss out of the limelight when joint EV development in China was discussed. Back in the U.S.A., he said he wouldn’t let his children close to a pure EV. Asked by the Nashville Business Journal what he thinks of Nissan’s Leaf, which is scheduled to be built in Smyrna, 40 miles from GM’s mothballed Spring Hills plant, Reuss answered:
“I’m not sure if I’d put the leaf in the hands of my three kids,” he said. “Say, what if they can’t charge it? What if they get to school and can’t charge it?”
In China, these concerns would be unfounded. Shanghai children officially are the smartest of the world. They know how to find a socket and how to insert a plug. Some of their parents even know how to develop an EV.