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China & U.S. Battery Technology

Green America’s big-time battery innovator A123 got millions in taxpayer support. Now China’s snatching up the company, and its knowledge.

An A123 Systems Inc. high power Nanophospate Lithium Ion Cell for Hybrid Electric Vehicles battery is shown Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009 in Livonia, Mich. (AP)

An A123 Systems Inc. high power Nanophospate Lithium Ion Cell for Hybrid Electric Vehicles battery is shown Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009 in Livonia, Mich. (AP)

A123, the American company at the forefront of research and innovation in new wave batteries for electric cars, won a quarter-billion dollar nod of support from the US government.

Now it’s in trouble, and turning to a Chinese company to bail it out. After all that US taxpayer subsidy, it may end up 80 percent Chinese-owned. Is that a problem? It’s certainly head-turning.

New research on energy storage – batteries – is key to a green energy future. China and the US both know it. This hour, On Point: the energy storage frontier, batteries, and the A123 story.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Michael Ramsey, automotive reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

Michael Dunne, president of the Hong Kong-based strategic marketing firm Dunne & Company and author of “American Wheels, Chinese Roads: The Story of General Motors in China.”

Donald Sadoway, professor of materials chemistry at MIT.

Ethan Zindler, head of policy analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a market research firm.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal “A company that two years ago was one of the most promising U.S. innovators in the clean-fuel auto industry was rescued from collapse Wednesday. Its buyer: A Chinese auto-parts company.”

Businessweek “A123 Systems Inc. (AONE)’s chief executive officer said the company’s financial rescue by China’s largest auto-parts maker will preserve U.S. jobs, after the agreement drew criticism from congressional Republicans.”

New York Times “Lauded during a visit by President Obama, A123 Systems was supposed to be a centerpiece of his administration’s effort to use $2 billion in government subsidies to jump-start production of sophisticated electric batteries in the United States.”

Excerpt: “American Wheels, Chinese Roads: The Story of General Motors in China”

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