China Drives Into America’s Auto Parts Industry

September 3, 2013

As the City of Detroit struggles with bankruptcy, broader questions loom about how to revive the US auto sector. America’s auto industry was once central not just to Detroit’s prosperity but to the economy of Michigan and the US manufacturing base writ large.

The debates about Detroit’s future are closely linked to this Chinese story. One of the market segments into which Chinese firms have sought to diversify is, in fact, the US auto sector.

In 2010, a Chinese consortium sought to acquire a technologically advanced auto parts company in Saginaw, Michigan. The case is instructive because it demonstrates that such deals, even when they succeed, are both extraordinarily complex and fraught with pitfalls that touch the acquisition of US technology. What follows is the story of how Chinese entities acquired Nexteer Automotive.