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Microvast loses $200 million US grant over China concerns

A file picture of Microvast's plant in Tennessee, USA, under construction. The company also has manufacturing facilities in Germany and China. Image: Business Wire

The US Department of Energy has withdrawn a $200 million grant to US battery maker Microvast, citing concerns over the company's connections with China. The grant was aimed at helping Microvast build a battery plant, but came under criticism from lawmakers who said the company had ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

In response, Microvast's founder and chairman Yang Wu said the company was "surprised by the DOE's decision", pointing out it was designed "to help build a new facility in Kentucky that would employ hundreds of people".

In a statement Chinese-born Wu, who is now a US citizen, said, "Microvast is based in Texas, its shares are traded on Nasdaq, and the operations for our global business are centralized in the US. Neither the Chinese government nor the Chinese Communist Party has any ownership in the company, nor do they control or influence company operations in any way." The company, he added, was considering all of its options.

Besides its US footprint, which straddles four states, Microvast has a manufacturing plant and R&D center in Berlin, Germany, and a manufacturing plant and R&D center in Huzhou, China.

The company had previously announced plans to build the world's first mass production facility in the US for its polyaramid separator.

Microvast said it will continue to invest "significantly" in its US expansion, adding that the withdrawal of the DOE grant would have no impact on expansion plans already underway. The company added that the $200 million grant was part of a larger investment of $504 million. 

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