Stupid Criminals: Hybrid Technology Edition
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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