published : 2023-09-05

Dozens of Republicans Probe US Automaker for Partnership with CCP-Linked EV Company

Republicans warn Ford's deal with Chinese battery firm could 'exacerbate our reliance on China' and create a national security risk

A group of Republican lawmakers from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, led by Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, deeply engrossed in a probe. Photo taken with a Nikon D850.

A group of 26 Republican lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are investigating billion-dollar U.S. automaker Ford Motor Company over its recent partnership with Chinese battery firm Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL). Led by Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee Chair Morgan Griffith, the Republicans expressed concerns to Ford CEO Jim Farley about the potential national security risks posed by the deal.

In their letter, the Republicans stated that while Ford claimed the partnership was a commitment to American manufacturing and job creation, they worried that cooperating with a Chinese company could aid China's efforts to gain control over U.S. electric vehicle supply chains, jeopardizing national security. They believe that if China were to control domestic electric vehicle production, it would expose the United States to serious risks amidst escalating geopolitical tensions.

Ford had previously announced a $3.5 billion investment to build a lithium iron phosphate battery plant in Marshall, Michigan, creating 2,500 new jobs. As part of that announcement, the company revealed its agreement with CATL to manufacture battery cells at the plant, utilizing the services provided by the Chinese company.

Ford CEO Jim Farley discussing the partnership with Chinese battery firm Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) and addressing concerns of national security risks. Photo taken with a Canon EOS R5.

The plan, initially intended for Virginia, saw opposition from Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin due to concerns regarding China's potential influence. The proposed Michigan facility attracted Chinese investors tied to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), raising further concerns about the partnership's implications.

Experts have warned that the Ford-CATL deal may provide China with an opportunity to exploit Inflation Reduction Act tax credits and collaborate with American companies. Furthermore, Republican lawmakers obtained information suggesting a significant number of jobs at the Michigan facility might be given to Chinese citizens. Ford, however, denies any such arrangement with CATL.

In their letter, the Energy and Commerce Republicans requested the complete licensing agreement between Ford and CATL, as well as all documents and communications related to the proposed facility. They specifically want answers regarding CATL's control over the facility and its operations.

Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin expressing his opposition to the proposed Michigan facility due to concerns about China's potential influence. Photo taken with a Sony Alpha A7 III.

Ford clarified that they alone will build, own, and run the battery plant, emphasizing that it aims to strengthen U.S. manufacturing and create 2,500 new American jobs. The company stressed that the partnership with CATL is limited to licensing their battery cell technology for use in the U.S. and contracting them for specific services.

This investigation by Republican lawmakers highlights the growing concerns about the implications of partnerships between U.S. companies and Chinese entities, particularly amid mounting tensions between the two nations. The outcome of the probe could have significant implications for future collaborations and national security.