Chinese entrepreneur plans to build Southland battery factory

A Chinese entrepreneur who recently acquired the Balboa Bay Club and Resort in Newport Beach said his next venture will be to build a factory in the region to mass-produce batteries that can power a bus for 1,000 miles on one charge.

Winston Chung said he is developing the new lithium-sulfur battery plant as part of a broader plan to export products to China.

He has invested in Balqon Corp. in Harbor City, which builds drive systems for electric-powered buses; and is majority owner of MVP RV Inc. in Riverside, which builds trailers and recreational vehicles.

He believes the region can become a hub for production of electric and battery technology.

“In the future you will see … the market for pure electric vehicles and yachts will emerge from Southern California,” Chung told reporters Friday.


He was in town to accept an award from the United Nations Assn. of New York, a nonprofit support group for the U.N., which made him the inaugural recipient of an annual award honoring entrepreneurs who benefit society.

The Hong Kong resident also said he plans to build a Chinese duplicate of the Balboa Bay Club, a sprawling waterfront facility with a 160-room hotel.

Chung’s Seven-One Capital-Business Inc. agreed in August to buy International Bay Clubs Inc., owner of the Balboa Bay Club and the Newport Beach Country Club, for an undisclosed amount.

The 53-year-old Hong Kong resident said he loves Newport Beach and hopes that “little by little I’ll become a resident of the city.” But he wouldn’t discuss rumors that he already has bought a home in the city. “That’s private,” he said.

A battery scientist and inventor, Chung made his fortune in the southern China cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai, where the communist People’s Republic of China created special economic zones in the 1980s to allow capitalist-style businesses to grow.

He donated $10 million to the engineering school at UC Riverside early this year.