HEFEI, China — Walk around the sprawling auto factory in central China, and the wealth pouring into the country’s electric car industry quickly becomes clear.
Rows of bright orange, 15-foot-tall robots — 307 of them, mainly from Sweden — whir with activity. They glue lightweight aluminum panels to vehicle frames using aerospace-grade adhesives. In an industry in which speed can mean cost efficiency, the assembly line plods along at half the pace of many lines elsewhere.
Even by the standards of the $1.6 trillion global car industry, an operation like this doesn’t come cheap. In fact, the Chinese operator of