Monday, March 16, 2009

Lithium: China Is The Key To Mass Acceptance Of Electric Cars FXI, WLC.v, CLQ.v, SQM, GM, F, TMT, GOOG, AAPL, AMZN, RIMM, QQQQ

Jay YarowMar. 11, 2009, 4:34 PM13
Loads of people still hang onto fears of poor Chinese manufacturing, but if we want to get cheaper electric cars in the United States, we should let go of those fears.
Daryl Siry, former chief marketing officer for electric car start up Tesla, argues that we need to outsource more of our electric auto production to China. In addition to the added cost of batteries for electric cars, the high labor costs in the US push the sticker price on electric cars too high.
For instance, the "cheap" Tesla sedan, the Model S, is projected to cost $58,000, but Siry thinks it will cost much more, closer to the $87,000 car being developed by Tesla rival, Fiskar, another electric automaker. The Chevy Volt, a comparatively affordable electric car still costs $40,000. Those prices look astronomical in comparison to Chinese automaker BYD's $22,000 electric car which should hit our shores in two years. (BYD is in portfolio of Warren Buffet - S.)
Few automakers want to get their cars built in China, because the nation has a reputation for shoddy quality. But if they can shake off the stigma that comes with Chinese production, automakers could build less expensive electric cars in China. The low price would then hurry along mass adoption, helping to wean us off oil.
The biggest problem with Siry's plan, though, is that all US automakers seem to need a bailout of some sort. Tesla is hoping for Energy Department money, as is Fisker. The struggles of GM and Chrysler are well documented. Siry argues that companies such as Apple design their products in the US and manufacture them in China. The quality isn't any worse and it still supports American industry. While it's a good thought, we doubt the government would be willing to finance companies that design and sell electric cars in the US but make them elsewhere.
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