Here is an excerpt from the most recent episode:
A leading American maker of batteries for electric vehicles, A123 Systems, secures hundreds of millions of dollars in grants from Washington D.C and the State of Michigan.
A123 Systems, recently offered a $450 lifeline by China’s Wanxiang Group, makes lithium-ion car batteries at this plant in Michigan.
A123 quickly earns awards for both its innovative culture and its technical advances. But before long, the company encounters business difficulties, faces imminent bankruptcy and scrambles for money.
Wanxiang arrives with fistfuls of cash, takes control of A123 and inherits some of the world’s most advanced battery technology. Wanxiang is further encouraged as policy makers in Beijing promise $10,000 rebates to Chinese electric car buyers. The future is bright.
It is fair to say that Wanxiang, a private company based in Zhejiang, has broken no rules. Wanxiang sees a straight-up business deal in which it pays market price for a cash-starved company that is on the verge of failure.
However, what many American taxpayers see is bad business, a sham. And they sense a deeply troubling pattern for the future: America develops technology – subsidized with generous tax dollars – only to see it purloined, borrowed or, in this case, purchased on the cheap by firms from competing nations.
How can America possibly sustain its culture of innovation when assets are so vulnerable to cherry picking by cash-rich Chinese companies? This issue — not last month’s unemployment rate — should be the central issue as the U.S. tries to decide who will be its president for the next four years.”
- Chinese auto firm Wanxiang swoops in to rescue (& own) A123 (gigaom.com)