Chinese auto companies interested in NUMMI site

April 23, 2010 9:41:55 PM PDT
Four Chinese automakers have expressed interest in the possibility of using the former New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant in Fremont for some purpose, but nothing concrete has developed so far, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson said this week.

Carson, who chairs the East Bay Economic Development Alliance for Business (EDAB), recently led a trade mission to China to explore opportunities for bringing Chinese auto manufacturing to the East Bay and opportunities for international investment and collaboration to develop and commercialize green technologies.

Among those who joined Carson on the trip were Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi, EDAB Executive Director Bruce Kern, Kristen Durham of the Bay Area Council, business entrepreneur Doreen Chiu and Mark Petri, the director of Injex Industries, a Hayward auto supply company.

Carson said the Bay Area delegation had 17 meetings with business, government and university officials in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Wuhan and Shenzen.

NUMMI was a 25-year-long joint venture between General Motors and Toyota but GM withdrew from the partnership last summer and the plant was closed on April 1.

Carson said the four automakers the group met with expressed interest in entering the North American market.

He said, "They know that North America is a sizable market and would like to access it" but want to know if Alameda County officials can help facilitate their efforts.

Carson said, "They may have substantial finances, but they're interested in what additional subsidies might be available, including from the federal government."

The county supervisor said that in addition to expressing interest in making cars, the Chinese companies also expressed an interest in the possibility of using the NUMMI site for research and development and what he described as "green, clean technology."

Carson said he thinks the NUMMI site is an attractive location for Chinese companies because, "There's good transportation infrastructure, a trained workforce, supportive elected officials and research and development communities nearby."

However, Carson said "nothing will happen overnight" in terms of finding a use for the NUMMI site.

He noted that when GM closed the auto plant in 1982, it took two years before the plant was reopened in a partnership with Toyota.

The auto companies the Alameda County delegation met with were BYD Company, the Dofeng Electric Vehicle Company, Shanghai Kinway Technologies and TZG Partners.


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