It’s been five years since Saleen announced a partnership to expand into the Chinese market and generate substantial revenue to ease its financial woes. In 2019, The revived company had revealed five models ranging from a new iteration of the venerable S7 to a mass-produced electric city car. The company collapsed by the end of 2020. Now, the last vestige of Saleen’s Chinese expansion is set to be sold off.
A Chinese provincial government is going to auction off an uncompleted Saleen production facility in Rugao, a city 107 miles northwest of Shanghai. The auction will take place on May 30th with a starting bid of $360.1 million. The plant was supposed to be completed in 2019 and have the capacity to produce 150,000 cars per year.
Jiangsu Saleen Automotive Technology (JSAT), the name of the Chinese-based joint venture, had all of its assets seized and foreign employees expelled from the People’s Republic of China amid a massive corruption scandal. The Chinese government claims that Wang Xiaolin, JSAT’s majority owner, embezzled nearly $1 billion in state funds. A state-controlled technology investment fund owned a third of JSAT.
In a Wall Street Journal column, Steve Saleen claimed that JSAT “applied for 510 Chinese patents for my designs, technologies, trade secrets and engineering developments. Most of the patent filings didn’t even list me as the inventor.“ According to Saleen, there were plans to use the new Chinese patents to steal the long-running brand’s intellectual property and force him out of the joint venture.
JSAT controlled two production facilities in Rugao, an office in Shanghai and 144 apartments. All of these properties will presumably be auctioned to recoup some of the Chinese government’s losses on its investment. In the hope of escaping insolvency, Saleen fell into a malicious deal to effectively steal the company.