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Resource ID: #26407
Subject: Fraud
Source: Quartz
Affiliation: 
Date: Dec. 19, 2013

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Description

Quartz's feature, “The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile car” by Steve LeVine, is a prime example of the continued vitality of classic reporting methods in investigative news. In this long-form piece, LeVine turns two years of week-by-week reporting for a book into an unusual, blow-by-blow, insider account of alleged fraud. Advances in battery technology are critical to the development of products including smartphones, airplanes, and electric cars—and Silicon Valley's Envia at one moment was home to the most promising research breakthroughs in the US. But a phone tip told LeVine that matters were not as they seemed, leading him to burrow in on the investigation on which the piece is based. LeVine had been regularly interviewing two of the story's characters for The Great Battery Race, his latest book, to be published in 2015 by Viking. The executives of a Silicon Valley startup were the book's positive, climactic finish, a Hollywood ending in which General Motors licensed their technology for a triumphal 200-mile electric car, and the founders launched an IPO and got rich. It was only in September 2013, as LeVine was finishing the book, that he received the phone tip--the executives had fallen out in allegations of fraud, and GM had canceled the license. It is a story of how at least one and possibly both of the executives had fooled everyone—the Obama Administration, GM and the media—into believing they had created an enormous technological breakthrough when they had not.

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