The headline is attention-grabbing. A former Chinese auto executive is proposing a $6 billion plant in economically-distressed north Mississippi that will employ 25,000 people and produce one million cars a year.
Automotive News' story is both intriguing and complicated – and not just because three players are named Wang, one is named Yang – so buckle up for the short-and-sweet Autoblog version.
Yang Rong was once China's third-richest man as the CEO of Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. But after some disagreements with a Chinese government official in 2002, Yang fled the country and settled in Los Angeles.
Cars are only one of the reasons Yang wants to build $6.5 billion plant in Mississippi (that's six times the cost of Toyota's Mississippi plant, by the way). Another is green cards. When Yang left China, he also left his fortune and has apparently been unable to recoup any of it. It's a scary scenario that many wealthy Chinese fear: upset the government, lose your money. But the U.S. government makes it easy for Chinese residents to both invest their cash in America, as well as move here. Invest a minimum of $500,000 in an economically distressed region of the U.S., creating at least 10 jobs, and you get permanent resident status.
Vincent Wang, an associate of Yang's, says Italdesign Giugiaro is designing the new venture's cars, and documents show Porsche AG providing "our car's engineering design." Giugiaro confirms it has talked with the group, Porsche essentially says it has no comment. Such a controversial car must be powered by something just as unusual, right? Oh, yeah. The CEO of the project, C.T. Wang, tells Automotive News, the cars will be "powered by a combination of gasoline, electric, hybrid and compressed-natural-gas powertrains."
Yang calls his project, Hybrid Kinetic Automotive Holdings, Ltd. One of Yang's former associates has split from the group and also plans to build an automotive plant. That company is now called GreenTree Automotive, after being forced to change its name from Hybrid Kinetic Automotive Corp. Yeah. 'Cause that would have just been too confusing.
And where in Mississippi would someone go to gamble $6.5 billion on an automotive plant? Tunica County, of course. Home to nine of the Hospitality State's approximately 30 casinos.
[Source: Automotive News – subs. req.]