Concerns of A123 Battery Technology Transfer 'Overblown'

US auto executives concerned Wanxiang might shift part of A123's research and development activities to China, forfeiting control of its 'fiercely guarded battery design and manufacturing know-how.'

Published: 17-Aug-2012

Waltham, MA. -- Foreign car makers in China including General Motors Co and Toyota Motor Corp last year thought they had scored a victory over Beijing's efforts to strong-arm them into sharing cutting-edge electric car technology.

But that could prove compromised as leading Chinese auto parts firm Wanxiang Group Corp's $465 million investment in A123 Systems Inc, a struggling U.S. maker of lithium-ion batteries, may help China unlock the secrets to critical and advanced green-car technologies.

The investment has ruffled feathers in the run-up to the presidential election in the United States as A123 receives government grants tied to it keeping production and jobs in the U.S. during an economic downturn that has seen unemployment levels remain stubbornly above 8 percent.

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