SHANGHAI General Motors Co. agreed Tuesday to deepen cooperation with its flagship Chinese partner on development of electric vehicle knowhow amid pressure from Beijing to hand over proprietary technology.
GM would not say how much its investing in the venture with Chinese state-owned partner Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corp., and gave few details of the deal.
The Detroit company denied that the agreement was the result of a push by China to acquire advanced technology like the Chevrolet Volt electric car that its own automakers have yet to develop. The Volt can travel about 35 miles on battery power, and a gas-powered generator kicks in to run the car when the batteries are depleted. The generator technology eliminates anxiety over whether a driver will run out of electricity.
GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky, in a conference call from Shanghai, told reporters that neither SAIC nor the Chinese government have requested Volt technology.
Under the agreement with SAIC, the two companies will equally share the cost of developing a new all-electric vehicle, reducing GMs cost and risk, Girsky said.
GM, he said, makes a lot of money in the growing China market, and the partnership is an investment to keep that going. This is not a political decision. This is a business decision, he said.U.S. lawmakers complain
However, U.S. lawmakers have complained that China is shaking down GM to get the technology that drives the Volt. GM plans to start selling the Volt in China by the end of the year, but it probably wont sell many because it doesnt qualify for a Chinese government subsidy that amounts to $19,000 per car. The government offers the subsidy only to electric cars made in China. There also are tariffs on cars imported to China.
Lawmakers contend such requirements are unfair and may violate world trade rules.
Girsky said GM plans to sell only a small number of Volts in China at first to test consumer reception.
But he hinted that the Volt, now built at a Detroit factory for export worldwide, could eventually be built locally in China.
If we localize, eventually it wont have a tariff and it will get the subsidy, Girsky said. We have made no decision on if, when or where we build Volt in the future.