Interesting piece in yesterday's New York Times regarding the General Motors Volt - the plug-in hybrid favored by President Obama in many speeches on the future of automotive engineering.
But it seems, as the Times is reporting, that China has a couple tricks up its sleeve before it will permit GM to sell its Volt in China. The first is their mandate regarding technology sharing.
The article reports: "The three core technologies that China is most interested in acquiring through the subsidy provision are electric motors, complex electronic controls and power storage devices, whether batteries or a fuel cell. At least one of those systems would need to be included in the technology transfer for a vehicle to qualify for the consumer subsidies. In Ford’s case, Nancy Gioia, director of global electrification strategy, said the company planned to transfer at least one of the core technologies to a joint venture in China at the point when Ford decided to sell such a vehicle in China. Ford’s main joint venture partner in China is the civilian automotive affiliate of China Weaponry Equipment, a large contractor for the People’s Liberation Army."
The article also reports that Chinese subsidies are at issue, as well. China apparently subsidizes almost half of an electric car's cost through direct payments to manufacturers. Pursuant to WTO rules, China cannot discriminate against foreign manufacturers if they are unwilling to transfer technology to Chinese run companies. This could result in the showdown that is being forecasted.