Chinese Couple Found Guilty Of Stealing Crap From GM

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

A Detroit court found a former GM engineer and her husband guilty of conspiring to steal hybrid car trade secrets. Their lawyers unsuccessfully argued that there were no secrets to steal. Ed Niedermeyer had said that for years.

Shanshan Du and her husband Yu Qin face lengthy prison sentences. Sentencing will occur in February 2013.

In 2010, the couple was indicted on charges including conspiracy for allegedly stealing GM hybrid technology between 2003 and 2005. According to the indictment, Du copied thousands of pages of GM trade secrets onto a portable computer hard drive five days after accepting a buyout offer.

When we covered this story in 2010, our now Editor Emeritus Ed Niedermeyer wrote:

“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.”

As proof, Niedermeyer entered the video which we play again above. At the four minute mark, a former top executive at GM testifies that back then, there was nothing worth stealing.

The couple’s lawyers used the same line of reasoning, but could not convince the Detroit jury. When the matter goes to appeal, possibly the attorneys can call Lutz as a witness. Or Niedermeyer.

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8 of 42 comments
  • Rpol35 Rpol35 on Dec 02, 2012

    Yawn, more anti-GM bloviating. Must have been a slow news day.

    • See 5 previous
    • Rpol35 Rpol35 on Dec 03, 2012

      @highdesertcat Well we've gone from auto technology to Apple to pirated videos to Chinese sanctions to Israeli spys and then back to cars with Chrysler's up-to-date technology(?) but not to belabor the point..... Stealing is stealing; what has or does not have value is a subjective call. They got caught and that's it.

  • Panzerfaust Panzerfaust on Dec 02, 2012

    Stupid criminals are still criminals. Itellectual property can have more value than being copied, it can also be important to know the direction your rivals are going, how much money they're investing in a project. And not to defend GM, but just because a technology isn't cutting edge, that doesn't mean that the right application couldn't be profitable.

  • Kwik_Shift I was a GM fan boy until it ended in 2013 when I traded in my Avalanche to go over to Nissan.
  • Stuart de Baker I didn't bother to read this article. I'll wait until a definitive headline comes out, and I'll be surprised if Tesla actually produces the Cybertruck. It certainly looks impractical for both snowy and hot sunny weather.
  • Stuart de Baker This is very interesting information. I was in no danger of buying a Tesla. I love my '08 Civic (stick), and it feels just as responsive as when I bought it 11 years ago with 35k on the clock (now 151k), and barring mishaps, I plan to keep it for the next 25 years or so, which would put me into my mid-90s, assuming I live that long. On your information, I will avoid renting Teslas.
  • RHD The only people who would buy this would be those convinced by a website that they are great, and order one sight-unseen. They would have to have be completely out of touch with every form of media for the last year. There might actually be a few of these people, but not very many. They would also have to be completely ignorant of the Hyundai Excel. (Vinfast seems to make the original Excel look like a Camry in comparison.)
  • RHD This was awesome, in 1978. Now, it's very much obsolete - thirsty, slow, ponderous, noisy, rough, and dated design even in its time. Still, someone who wants to recreate some distant memories will buy it and restore it and enjoy it, and the seller just has to find that particular individual.