Commentary

Is America Ready For Chinese Electric Cars?

News broke yesterday that Chinese Internet behemoth Tencent took a 5% stake in U.S.-based Tesla. Though the stake is small, the impression was large enough to push Tesla's stock up by more than 2.5% by the end of the trading day.

While investors appeared to applaud Tencent's purchase of about 8.17 million Tesla shares, some critics on social media wondered if this was more Chinese encroachment on American jobs, technology, and competitiveness.

Some of the job worries may be justified. China-based LeEco's Faraday Future, which is planning to build a factory in Nevada, yesterday cancelled its plans to build a second California factory. Will the company now throw up its cash-strapped arms and move operations back to China and employ Chinese laborers?

But critics should not worry so much about duplicating American EV technology in China — it's already happening. Many of the top electric vehicle companies are ramping up operations from China. Tencent has already invested in two Chinese EV start-ups, including NIO, formerly known as Next EV, and Future Mobility, a start-up founded by two veteran automobile executives from BMW and Infiniti.

The Future Mobility company's founders are actually foreigners who came to China to work in the American automobile industry. So, if anything, China should be worried about foreigners encroaching on their turf.

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