Manufacturing News

GM says China has not pressured it to share Volt technology

General Motors Co. disputes a New York Times article that said the Chinese government is pressuring GM to share the Chevrolet Volt's EV technology with its Chinese partner.

General Motors plans to import the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid into China later this year.

According to The Times, China wants GM and other foreign automakers to share their EV battery, motor and inverter technologies with their Chinese partners.

The government is offering generous sales subsidies as a carrot.

In five test cities, EVs qualify for subsidies up to 60,000 yuan ($9,400), while plug-ins get a 50,000-yuan incentive. Some municipalities have introduced additional incentives.

In its article, The Times noted that the Volt does not yet qualify for the central government's sales subsidy for alternative fuel vehicles.

So far, there are no written rules stating that imports do not qualify for the subsidies. But among automakers, it is generally understood that the vehicles have to be locally built to get the subsidies.

Beijing may formalize its previously unofficial stance on technology sharing later this month, The Times said.

But General Motors spokeswoman Dana Hart told Automotive News China that the government is not pressuring the company to share technology.

The automaker will begin importing the Volt into Chinese "since we want to get the car into China as quickly as possible," said GM spokeswoman Dayna Hart. "As such, there is no local content requirement and no pressure from the government to transfer any Volt technology."

Hart adds that GM supports the government's subsidies in five cities. "We believe that this is a critical step to cultivate market acceptance for an early introduction of electric vehicles in China," Hart said.

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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