Manufacturing News

GM resists Chinese pressure to share EV technology

General Motors Co. is lobbying Chinese officials to okay sales subsidies for the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid without requiring GM to share the technology with its Chinese partner, the New York Times reports.

The government wants GM to share the Volt's technology with joint-venture partner SAIC Motor Corp. Beijing is pressuring other international automakers to do the same.

Beijing may issue a formal policy on technology sharing later this month, the Times said.

The government is especially interested in three key EV technologies: electric motors, batteries and electronic controls. In return for those technologies, the government presumably would allow foreign EVs to qualify for generous sales incentives.

Last year, the central government introduced subsidies in five cities for plug-ins and electric vehicles. EVs qualify for subsidies up to 60,000 yuan ($9,200), while plug-ins get subsidies ranging up to 50,000 yuan.

Conventional hybrids like the Toyota Prius don't qualify for those subsidies, although the central government has hinted that it might modify that policy.

If it doesn't qualify for China's plug-in subsidy, the Volt -- which its U.S. list price of 262,000 yuan -- would be at a competitive disadvantage.

Other automakers appear ready to accommodate Beijing. In July, Nissan Motor Co. announced plans to develop an EV with joint-venture partner Dongfeng Motor Group. That EV, which will be marketed under the partnership's domestic Venucia brand, will share some components with the Nissan Leaf.

At the Shanghai auto show in April, Honda Motor Co. announced plans to begin building an EV in China in 2012, while Toyota said it would build batteries, motors and inverters in China for the locally assembled Prius hybrid.

A Ford Motor Co. executive told the Times that it, too, would share some technology with its Chinese partner, Changan Automobile Group. Ford sells an electric version of its Transit Connect commercial van in the U.S., where it also plans to introduce an electric Focus.

But Ford has yet to announce a timetable for introducing an EV in China.

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