Charging into America
Chinese firms are keen on America's battery-vehicle market
TESLA, an American electric-car manufacturer, is the darling of investors and the most visible success in a business more notable for its failures.
The praise it has attracted is encouraging Chinese firms to try to enter the American market.
A Hong Kong company and a mainland firm are battling for control of Fisker, a failed maker of hybrid-electric cars based in California; a court hearing due on January 10th will consider creditors' calls for an open auction.
And BYD, another Chinese mainland firm, said this week it would start selling its own electric cars in America next year.
In 2009, when America's Department of Energy agreed to give Fisker a big green energy loan to start production of its sleek Karma sports car, it looked like posing a serious threat to Tesla.
But Fisker was brought down by quality problems, poor management and the financial difficulties of A123, its battery supplier.
Production of the Karma ceased in late 2012 and, last November, Fisker followed A123 into bankruptcy.
Hybrid Tech Holdings, controlled by Richard Li—a son of Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong's richest tycoon—bought the DOE's loan to Fisker at a big discount and is now seeking to use its influence as a creditor to win control of the collapsed firm.
Fisker's managers support Mr Li's bid.
But many of the company's unsecured creditors prefer the rival takeover proposal, from Wanxiang, a giant Chinese maker of car parts which aspires to go big into electric cars.
It has already bought A123 and plans to revive production of the Karma, assembling it in America rather than, as before, in Finland.
For all the excitement about Tesla, battery cars have in general been selling like pork pies at a vegetarians' convention.
Yet this is deterring neither Fisker's rival bidders nor BYD, which has Warren Buffett as a shareholder.
BYD has already persuaded Los Angeles to accept a handful of its expensive electric buses, but getting motorists to buy pricey battery cars from a firm they have not heard of will be quite a challenge.
Neither BYD nor any other Chinese firm has yet produced an electric car of anything like the quality of Tesla's Model S, which motoring pundits have showered with plaudits.
无论是BYD还是中国任何一家其他公司能制造出与Tesla S 型电动车质量相仿的电动车，该电动车赢得许多汽车专家的喝彩。
Even in China, where big subsidies and other inducements are on offer, buyers have spurned their clunkers.