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Just returned from the dead, and reintroduced to the public markets, General Motors (NYSE: GM ) is the stock everyone's cheering for these days. But is China about to rekill GM, and this time, nail the coffin shut? Maybe not ...
Just a couple years ago, that's how things were looking. Mere months from declaring bankruptcy, GM was making a last ditch effort to reinvent itself, to go green, develop a wunder-produkt, and recapture the imagination of car-buyers -- and automotive investors. The company's groundbreaking Chevy Volt electric car offered the potential to finally make the internal combustion engine obsolete, or nearly so. But no sooner had GM set a date for introducing the car to potential buyers, than out came China's BYD, recently armed with an investment from Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A ) (NYSE: BRK-B ) , and announced an electric car of its own -- and a threat to begin selling it in the U.S.
The little car company that could
It looked like a deathblow for GM, a Cadillac-sized coup de grace. Leapfrogging Toyota's (NYSE: TM ) electric car offering, and coming to market even before Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA ) could get its Model S finished, BYD promised to begin landing its F3DM plug in hybrid and E6 electric buggy on U.S. shores about the same time GM and Ford (NYSE: F ) begin bringing their own electro-buggies to market, at prices rumored to undercut competitors.
But if China can invade GM's turf, then turnabout must be fair play, right? On Tuesday, the Detroit Lion announced an electric shocker of its own -- it knows how to export cars too, and intends to make an international play with the Volt. Before 2011 is out, GM promises to begin exporting electric Volts.
It's not saying where to -- not yet -- but considering the size of GM's operations in China these days, I'd be shocked if that isn't one of GM's target markets. And while it's true the Volt will probably cost more than the F3DM, the more Volts get built, the more the efficiencies of scale will begin to shift in GM's favor. Already, General Electric (NYSE: GE ) has cast its lot with GM, confirming that nearly half the 25,000 electric cars it plans to buy will be Chevy Volts. With the big fish already snagged, it seems BYD's going to have to fish elsewhere for customers if it wants to monopolize this market.
Will BYD, which has been struggling lately, even be able to pass "Go?" Sound off below.