I came across a story in the LA Times today that ticked me off.
It’s about a company, A123 Systems of Boston, that wants to build a factory in the United States to manufacture batteries that turn Priuses into plug-in hybrids that get more than 100 miles per gallon and recharge by plugging into a regular wall outlet.
From the Times story:
“So why are (A123 founder Yet-Ming) Chiang and his company, A123 Systems, having trouble moving to full-scale commercial production and creating thousands of new American jobs with his better mousetrap?
“The answer is a story of the obstacles to a rebirth of U.S. manufacturing, and of the tantalizing possibilities if such a rebirth could be achieved. For Chiang's company has one foot in China and the other in the U.S., reflecting the forces that drive manufacturers overseas and the potential for a renaissance at home.
“The obstacles here are rooted in the sad history of manufacturing's decline in the United States: Despite the promise of Chiang's batteries, many on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley were incredulous when he and other leaders at A123 asked for capital to build factories in America — Asia, yes, but Michigan, why would you want to?
“Even more daunting, nearly all of the world's battery manufacturing industry is in Asia, where plants can be built faster and supplies and equipment are much easier to get than in the United States. These days, it's hard to find Americans who even know how to build a battery factory.
“That's why A123 had to give in and build its first plants in China, where the company could move into production quickly to show auto industry customers that it could deliver on future contracts.”
That’s just wrong.