China's JAC will launch its first electric car in the US
In order for US, Asian, or European automakers to do business in China they must partner with a Chinese company. Interestingly, China’s first major effort to bring an electric car to the United States will seek a US partner. Rather than work with people or companies that actually build cars here, Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co., Ltd (JAC) has chosen instead to work with a maker of neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) led by a group of politicians and political advisers. The group is called GreenTech automotive and it does not presently make a vehicle for US roads and highways.
GreenTech Automotive calls itself “U.S.-based automotive manufacturer dedicated to developing and producing environmentally friendly, energy-efficient vehicles.” However, it does not make any cars. It does make a NEV, a limited use, 2-seat electric vehicle that is not allowed on typical American highways. GreenTech was founded by former Democratic National Committee Chairman, Terry McAuliffe. Mr. McAuliffe was also co-chair of Bill Clinton’s presidential run, as well as chairperson of Hilary Clinton’s presidential run in 2008. He is presently running for the Governorship of the state of Virginia. JAC is an automobile maker and automotive parts supplier in China that has been in business since 1964. According to the company it has the capacity to build 700,000 vehicles annually.
In its announcement today, the two companies announced a partnership to produce an affordable, 5-passenger, electric sedan for sale in the US. The base vehicle for the new sedan will be the JAC Rejoice. JAC calls the Rejoice “An electric car platform.” That platform will use GreenTech’s electric drive system. The drivetrain will feature a 19kWh battery pack and be capable of an approximate range of 100 miles. In an announcement on the GTA website, Charles Wang, Chairman and CEO, GreenTech Automotive was quoted as saying, “JAC is recognized worldwide for the caliber and quality of its manufacturing. GTA’s innovative electric powertrain is a perfect fit for JAC’s EV platform, which has won numerous national awards in China. Our meetings clearly revealed that there was good synergy between the JAC platforms and our technology and both companies immediately understood that a strategic partnership is in each company’s best interest.”
Marianne McInerney, executive vice president, sales and marketing, GTA also commented saying, “The five-passenger sedan is a natural complement to our two-passenger MyCar product line.” Ms. McInerney is the former Bush administration press officer for the Peace Corps. She has also been the past President of the American International Automobile Dealers Association and worked as VP of Sales at another electric vehicle company.
If it seems odd that so many political figures are involved in JAC’s US entry to the electric vehicle marketplace it shouldn’t. The former, and last US based owner of Chrysler, Cerberus Capital Management, included former US Vice President Dan Quayle on its team. Quayle was the firm’s chairman of Global Investments Division. According to earlier Torque News stories covering GreenTech, US President Bill Clinton has been an advisor to the company.
GreenTech lists as its core values green technology, affordability, and job creation. The current plan is to assemble the new vehicle at GreenTech’s Horn Lake Miss. facility. According to today’s announcement made at the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition the car will be available for sale late 2013. That is a very ambitious timeline given the testing and regulatory requirement for a vehicle sold in the US marketplace. Given this aggressive time-line and the other information available, it would seem that the car will simply be a Chinese-made vehicle with an electric drive from GreenTech and a battery from a supplier, possibly Flux Power.
If this press release and business outline comes to fruition, the new GreenTech/JAC collaboration would be the first production Chinese EV sold in North America.
Some facts used as background information for this story were verified using Wickipedia.