Stupid Criminals: Hybrid Technology Edition

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Shanshan Du and Yu Qin of Troy, MI have been indicted on charges including conspiracy for allegedly stealing GM hybrid technology between 2003 and 2005. According to the Detroit News,

Du, who was hired at GM in 2000 and worked in the company’s Advance Technology Vehicle Group, copied thousands of pages of GM trade secrets onto a portable computer hard drive five days after accepting a buyout offer in 2005. The indictment alleges the theft of secrets dates back to 2003.

GM estimates the value of the stolen documents at $40 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The indictment charges that Du and Qin set up their own company in hopes of transferring technology to the Chinese automaker Chery, but that no technology ever made it to the Wuhu-based automaker. And though this is an obvious opportunity for a laugh at the expense of “Chinese R&D,” the real story here is just how stupid Du and Qin were for targeting The General’s hybrid technology between 2003 and 2005.

To this day GM still has yet to develop a commercially successful hybrid drivetrain, and at the time of the alleged theft, only the highly unsuccessful BAS “mild hybrid” system (production start in 2006), the PHT truck mild hybrid system (production in 2005), and expensive, complicated “two-mode” hybrid system (production in 2008) were on track for eventual production. What Chery, Du or Qin saw in that technology is utterly baffling… and their attempt at industrial espionage may well have been the greatest compliment ever paid to GM’s long-abortive attempt to catch up with Toyota and Honda in the area of hybrid technology. Don’t believe us? Check out newly-minted CNBC contributor Bob Lutz’s take on GM’s hybrid woes at the four-minute mark in the video above.

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  • Mythicalprogrammer Mythicalprogrammer on Jul 23, 2010

    "the real story here is just how stupid Du and Qin were for targeting The General’s hybrid technology between 2003 and 2005." Just cause their technology fail to sell doesn't mean it was stupid to steal the technologies. They could build upon the technologies and they have some where to start, instead of starting from scratch, therefore it'll save them time and money on R&D. Which is why Ford selling Volvo to Geely is stupid. Chinese are a couple year behind with Car safety and they had to sell Volvo. Not that I hate the Chinese or anything but I'm rooting for my country.

    • Jaje Jaje on Jul 23, 2010

      I would have cheered if we could have exported the UAW with Volvo to China.

  • Jaje Jaje on Jul 23, 2010

    A little off topic but relevant to GM and their "hybrids" Where Honda/Toyota/Ford had "hybrids" GM had a brilliant idea. Put start/stop technology in normal cars and make it invasive - nearly imperceptible to the customer. This would increase city mpg for a very low cost compared to the $5k premium a true hybrid adds. GM failed to capitalize on a brilliant idea of evolving the common car ahead of the game. You'll gain better CAFE reduction from improving your bread / butter cars than you will with a fraction of sales as hybrids. Instead GM took their start/stop technology and put on hybrid badges on their car and compared them to hybrids. Thank you Lutz for thinking you could bait and switch us with advertising and delivering a product that is substandard.

  • ToolGuy Nice writeup.
  • Jamie Electric cars and their planet stripping unsustainable mineral needs. Nothing is perfect.....
  • Tom Kenney Wondering the same. It's getting late for 2024....I should scoop up a 2023 3.3t now.
  • Ja-GTI My father bought one of these new in '75, when I was an inquisitive lad of six with a younger sister of four. I showed her how to open the rear hatch, and then I noticed a convenient pull-down handle on the bottom of the rear parcel shelf. I couldn't reach it from the ground, so I climbed in the back, pulled on the handle, and quite suddenly shut the hatch on top of me. The four year-old sister couldn't follow my frantic instruction on how to open the hatch - she eventually left to go to our neighbor's house to "get some cookies", and I spent the next several hours having a very bad time.Finally, the older nine year-old sister came home from school and was showing the new car to a friend when she heard me yelling and freed me from my VW prison. Thankfully, I overcame my childhood PTSD and ended up owning an '07 GTI for fourteen years - which gave me another type of PTSD. And my VW circle of life is now complete. Well, except for the '15 Jetta TDI manual I bought for my son...
  • Inside Looking Out In America non-violent crime is legalized in 2020 but in England not. That guy in America would be considered as the pillar of society. Wild west you know,