The cottage industry of electric vehicle conversions was hoping to ride the wave of EV fever into a much larger market. Unfortunately, the high cost of conversions means there are few takers, and several conversion companies have already gone out of business.
Yet Auburn Hills-based ALTe Powertrain Technologies believes there is still a market for EV conversions…it just isn’t in the U.S.
Instead, ALTe is looking to China to expand their market, via a Dubai-based investor named S. moody Alvai. The company turned to ALTe after not one, but two Chinese billionaires failed to follow through on their promised investment. Together with Alvai and unnamed Chinese investors, ALTe will form a joint venture called MESA Industrial Technology Corp
These private Chinese investors could be the aforementioned billionaires, albeit on a smaller scale, or they may be merely vehicles for local and provincial governments. This is because China is moving forward with ambitious plans to get 500,000 plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on the road by 2015. While the tax incentives for Chinese car buyers to go electric is great, there are still relatively few takers.
ALTe, who recieved $200 million for Alvai to make the move into China, is pinning their hopes on converting buses and other municipal machines into electric vehicles. This is pretty much the same business plan ALTe pursued in America, teaming up with other companies like P&G Electric to test out hybrid-electric Ford F-150 pickups. ALTe has reportedly already signed a memoranden of understanding to supply up to 27,000 powertrains per year to an unnamed Chinese company. The deal is reportedly worth $680 million over 4 years.
ALTe is pushing its plans for an American EV back by a year in order to focus on its venture in China. This is just the latest American company to shift its focus to China, with battery maker A123 recently being bought out of bankruptcy by another Chinese investment firm. That means American technology and American jobs are shifting to the Far East, due in no small part to a lack of government investment and consumer interest.
I wish ALTe all the best in their Chinese venture…and I hope this massive shift of EV technology doesn’t come back to bite America in the ass in the next few decades.