Taxpayer Funding of Chevy Volt to Create Jobs – In China

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Akerson and Volt photoIt seems the promise of job creation for taxpayer funded green initiatives, such as the Chevy Volt development, is partially being kept. The only problem is that many of those jobs are going to China. General Motors confirmed last week that it would develop an electric vehicle platform in China. USA Today reports that GM Vice Chairman, Steve Girsky, stated that GM and Chinese auto company, SAIC, will develop a new electric vehicle that would draw upon the Chevy Volt's technology. Girsky also hinted that future Chevy Volts will be built in China in order to qualify for Chinese subsidies of about $19,000 per car. Girsky claims that neither China nor SAIC are demanding that GM share Volt technology. Whether they are demanding it or not, it is obvious that they will get it.

GM may try to skew media reports to downplay the fact that China will now have access to the Volt's technology; a technology that was developed with taxpayers' money. SAIC taking over development of GM's electric vehicle platform means that the taxpayer money spent on the promise of a bright green future with loads of American jobs created is now going to benefit China. The Chinese government is even more embedded in their auto industry than the current American administration is in theirs.

The USA Today piece also states that "GM plans to start exporting Michigan-made Volts to China by year's end, but isn't likely to sell many." I would say "isn't likely to sell many" might be an understatement, given the fact that the Chinese-sold Volts will not have any subsidies available until the car is built in China. The Volt is a vehicle that does not yet offer enough value to consumers to be able to stand on its own without taxpayer subsidies. I don't expect that the Chinese masses will flock to the vehicle at non-subsidized prices.

As in America, while most common folk in China will not be able to afford a new Volt, Obama cronies at GE have agreed to purchase the vehicles. AP reports that GE is partnering with GM to build EV charging stations in China and as part of the deal they will buy Volts for their Shangai corporate campus. GE has already agreed to purchase thousands of Volts in America, they now are poised to be the largest purchaser of the cars (although US government may be competing) in both America and China. In a nutshell, taxpayers fund GM and GE for electric vehicle development, GM sells Volts to GE, GE makes money building charging stations for Volts, GM moves EV development to China. What a racket!

Perhaps a Chinese developed next-generation electric vehicle will be more efficient to build than the current Volt version. It would be nice to see an electric car platform that can eventually succeed without taxpayer subsidies and crony capitalism, although it would have been nicer to see the technology developed in the US as opposed to overseas. Taxpayers have spent billions of dollars developing green technologies like those used in the Chevy Volt. It is a shame that the "investment" isn't reaping the American green jobs rewards promised by the Obama Administration.

Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.