The potential sale of U.S. automotive battery maker A123 Systems to China’s largest auto components company, Wanxiang Group Corp., is raising security concerns among U.S. lawmakers. The $450 million deal would see Wanxiang taking control of 80% of A123 Systems which supplies lithium-ion batteries to luxury car makers like Fisker Automotive. A123 received funds from the Energy Department in 2009 which was used for battery research advancements and job creation programs for batteries used in hybrid and electric vehicles.
Opposition to the sale reports growing concern about foreign controlled or owned companies gaining a niche in the United States supply chain. According to U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, “We need to make sure the Federal government isnâ€™t giving away our own national secrets by providing Chinese automobile manufacturing companies with million dollar government grants and loans.” Under the terms of the grant, the company agreed to use funding to support U.S. manufacturing facilities. Changes to the agreement of the grant would first have to be approved by the Department of Energy (DOE) who does not approve grant money being used for anything other than investment in the manufacturing and job creation here in the United States.