EVs In China? Us? Never. Well, Maybe. On Second Thought …

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

When Lansing Senator Debbie Stabenow sent her most recent routine letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, complaining that the nasty Chinese want to get their greedy hands on the super-secret electric vehicle know-how of Ford and GM, both manufacturers protested. Against the assistance from Ms. Stabenow. Ford and GM said that “they have no plans to build electric vehicles in China.” At least that’s how the Detroit News heard it. Either the DetN was misinformed. Or GM and Ford quickly changed their minds. Or they just wanted Debbie off their backs. Ford and GM both want to make EVs in China.

Ford’s CEO Alan Mulally told Bloomberg that his company “ may make electric cars with its partner in China as the auto industry moves toward producing more fuel-efficient vehicles.” At least that’s how Bloomberg heard it.

Just last week, GM said they would do the same. GM would actually co-develop EVs in China with its partner SAIC.

So, did they lie to the DetN? Not exactly. This is what they had said:

Ford spokeswoman Meghan Keck said the matter wasn’t an issue for the company.

“We appreciate Senator Stabenow’s continued support of our industry. However, the issues she raised apply to electric vehicles, which we do not currently sell or produce in China,” Keck said.

The DetN needs to listen closely. Ford had said they do not “currently sell or produce” EVs in China. No comment about the future.
GM had said they have “no plans to build the Chevrolet Volt in China.” No comment about developing EVs there.

And speaking of what people really said: As you can see in the video above, Mulally said:

“As we move to more electrification, you’re going to see more hybrids, plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars.”

He didn’t say where and made by whom.

But he said he might bring Lincoln to China. Well, not really. He said “There’s going to be tremendous pull from China to have access to these great vehicles.”

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Steven02 Steven02 on Sep 27, 2011

    The DetN may have got it wrong here, but it is a slippery slope to walk for calling them out on getting a quote wrong, or assuming it meant something else. Obviously, that should get it right, don't misunderstand me, but in the article with GM and SAIC working on EVs together, you took that to mean that the Chinese weren't pressuring GM to give the technology that the Volt uses away. But there isn't any evidence of that. So be careful on the position you take in drawing conclusions from statements. I would say that GM is developing EV's with partners in China to have lower cost of development from a partner with deep pockets, and not give away technology at the same time.

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