Ford Faces Potential Subpoena Over Its Chinese Partnership as Lawmakers Dial Up Pressure

Chairs of three House committees warn Ford of a congressional subpoena or notification to appear before Congress if the company continues to defy their probes.
Ford Faces Potential Subpoena Over Its Chinese Partnership as Lawmakers Dial Up Pressure
Ford CEO Jim Farley announces at a press conference in Romulus, Mich., that Ford Motor Company will be partnering with Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL) to create an electric-vehicle battery plant in Michigan on Feb. 13, 2023. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Terri Wu

Ford Motor Co. faces a potential congressional subpoena related to the  automaker’s agreement for a now-paused electric vehicle project in Michigan with a Chinese battery maker, as House Republican lawmakers said the automaker has repeatedly refused to fully answer questions or provide requested documents about the pact.

In a letter to Ford CEO Jim Farley on Sept. 26, three House committee chairs said the company patronized their requests by giving a narrative reply without turning over necessary documents related to the partnership with China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL). They requested the same information they had sought in letters between April and early this month, and warned of the consequences of repeated defiance.

“If Ford does not comply fully with all of the Committees’ July 20, 2023, document requests and the September 1, 2023, Energy and Commerce document request by no later than October 6, 2023, we will consider other means to obtain the documents, including compulsory process or insisting that you appear before Congress to publicly explain your failure to comply,” the lawmakers—Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.), Select Committee on China Chair Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), and Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.)—wrote.

The planned $3.5 billion electric vehicle (EV) battery facility in Michigan licenses technology from CATL, whose chairman gets advice from communist leader Xi Jinping and serves on the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a political advisory body to the communist regime.

Between April and September, the three committee chairs had sent joint and separate requests to Mr. Farley, asking for a copy of the licensing agreement and all of the automaker’s communications with the Biden administration on the deal’s eligibility for tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

A Sept. 1 letter by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce stated that the Ford-CATL deal “could aid China’s efforts to expand its control over United States electric vehicle supply chains and jeopardize national security by furthering dependence on China.” Other congressional letters conveyed similar concerns.

Meanwhile, on Sept. 25, Ford said it was pausing the EV battery project, citing commercial competitiveness considerations.

“After months of investigation by the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, we’re encouraged to see Ford take a crucial first step to reevaluate its deal with Chinese Communist Party-aligned EV battery firm CATL,” Mr. Gallagher told The Epoch Times via email on Sept 25.

“CATL’s deep ties to CCP forced labor have no place in the American market and make the company exceptionally unfit to receive American taxpayer dollars,” he added. “Now, Ford needs to call off this deal for good.”

The Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) echoed Mr. Gallagher’s comments in a statement.

“Ford should not just pause its deal with CATL—the CCP’s [Chinese Communist Party’s] EV battery company—it should cancel it for good,” said Zach Mottl, chairman of CPA, an advocacy organization that represents domestic manufacturers. Ford isn’t a member of the CPA.

“Chinese companies should have no business qualifying for Inflation Reduction Act tax credits, and it was a serious mistake to pass the Inflation Reduction Act without those guardrails in place,“ he added. ”The CCP already heavily subsidizes its renewable energy industry, and companies like CATL have deep ties to China’s continued use of forced labor.”

CPA has called on Congress to pass legislation to block Chinese companies from receiving any IRA tax credits. Under the IRA, the consumer tax credit of $7,500 per EV has a clause related to “foreign entities of concern,” whose definition and interpretation still await guidelines from the Department of Treasury. However, the advanced manufacturing credit tied to EV batteries doesn’t have the same clause.

“We’ve answered multiple Congressional letters correcting misinformation about BlueOval Battery Park Michigan and Ford’s efforts to bring manufacturing home to the U.S.,“ Ford spokesperson Melissa Miller told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement. ”We’ve thoroughly responded to questions and shared detailed information about Ford’s work to strengthen domestic battery manufacturing, creating U.S. jobs and helping America compete and win on the global stage.”

Late last year, Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin withdrew the Commonwealth from the bid to host Ford’s EV battery park with CATL. For this, he was criticized by Democrats for missing a significant economic opportunity that would have created 2,500 jobs and was much needed in southern Virginia.

“I have to say I’m not surprised,” Mr. Youngkin said about Ford’s decision to pause its project with CATL at an event in Petersburg, Virginia, earlier today.

“When we really dug into the project, it was clear that it was a Trojan horse setup, with Ford really fronting for a company that is heavily influenced by the Chinese Communist Party. And they were trying to tap into taxpayer money.

“I’m really pleased we made that decision because we didn’t waste money or time like Michigan did on this project that now, as we saw earlier this year, really should not have gone forward.”

The article was updated with comments from Ford and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.