China and General Motors Enter into EV Partnership

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Last Tuesday, General Motors announced that it has entered into a joint venture partnership with a Chinese automaker. Included in the agreement are transfers of technology, such as battery design and other core electric vehicle technologies.

GM is the leading conventional carmaker in China and has expanded such reach in spearheading the next generation of electric cars to be offered to the Chinese market. This comes after the Chinese government is exerting pressure on foreign carmakers to share their technologies with Chinese counterparts. For its part, GM steered clear of the issue by stating that the agreement did not include the importation of the Chevrolet Volt, its flagship electric hybrid.

According to Stephen J. Girsky, Vice Chairman of General Motors, indicated that the Chinese government did not request that Volt technologies be included in the joint venture partnership. With this, GM understands that the Volt would not be eligible to be covered by the government subsidies provided for purchasers of clean energy vehicles. Instead, the joint venture is part of GM’s effort to improve the technical capabilities of the Chinese partner automaker. This is key as GM is able to sell more cars in China through this partnership than what it sells in the United States.

“This is not a political decision today. It’s a business decision,” according to Mr. Girsky.

The new electric car development partnership is a fifty-fifty partnership between GM and the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, China’s largest automaker. The partnership is called the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center based out of Shanghai. The previous project of the partnership is the LaCrosse eAssist currently on sale in both the U.S. and China. This vehicle is termed a mild hybrid because the electric motors help increase the fuel economy of the main powerhouse of the car, a gasoline engine.

Included in the agreement is expanding the current partnership into an electric car development center. This would be achieved would include transfer of battery technology as well as inverter technology. Inverters assist in controlling the transfer of electricity between the batteries and the electric motor.