“Cleantech is the new frontier for civilization,” Pin Ni, the President of Wanxiang America, told me in an interview this week. While Wanxiang might be an entirely unfamiliar name in the U.S., it’s one of China’s largest industrial parts companies with $13 billion in revenue and 45,000 employees. Wanxiang’s American division is sizable in its own right, with around $2.5 billion in revenue and 6,000 people.

Wanxiang has emerged as a company that has been making some really aggressive investments into U.S.-based cleantech startups, and the firm has invested in quite a few companies that had hit a wall financially. Most recently Wanxiang said it planned to invest up to $450 million into ailing lithium ion battery maker A123 Systems (s AONE), which could eventually give Wanxiang 80 percent ownership.

A123 Systems, based in Waltham, Mass. has been bleeding cash for months, with weak sales and a battery recall for…

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