The fact that Delphi's plants are unionized across the country is not a problem for Wanxiang, Ni says. Wanxiang already works with the UAW at some of the plants operated by the six companies in which Wanxiang has invested.
"It would be a challenge, but it would not be an unknown for us," Ni said. "As long as you can provide a value, that's the important thing."
Ni declined to identify the various U.S. parts companies in which Wanxiang has invested. He said the company does not own 100 percent of any of them, but prefers to own a majority stake in any venture.
He said they all maintain their former business names, even though Wanxiang considers them now to be part of Wanxiang.
He also said the company is increasing the pool of acquisition money that is managed by Wanxiang America, the "Wanxiang Manufacturing Fund." He said it originally was started with $30 million, but now has "much more than that." He declined to say exactly how much.
"We are now opening up the fund to other investors who want to participate," he added. "There are so many opportunities on the table."
Why doesn't Wanxiang just manufacture in China and export to the United States? It's all about efficient resource allocation, says Lu.
China's labor costs are lower than those in the United States. But the quality of China's work force -- and its efficiency -- are lower, he says. High shipping costs are another consideration.
Lu also is mindful of the political capital gained by having manufacturing operations in the United States. "American consumers like to buy 'Made in America" goods. They don't like to buy 'Made in China' goods," he says.
Lu, an impatient but good-natured man, has long had a nose for opportunity. In the late 1950's, urban areas faced a labor shortage during Chairman Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward, a frantic attempt to expand China's industry.
The 16-year old Lu moved to Shanghai and got a job making agricultural machinery. Three years later, he started his own repair shop.
In 1969, he opened the Ningwei People's Commune Agricultural Machinery Repair Factory. That became today's Wanxiang Group, which produces universal joints, bearings and brake systems. Its headquarters are in a suburb of the city of Hangzhou, a few hours southwest of Shanghai.
Wanxiang concentrates on automotive parts and has not widely diversified into other areas. It also moved early to seek overseas markets. That distinguishes Wanxiang from many other fully domestic Chinese suppliers, says Sun Jian, a principal in Shanghai with the A.T. Kearney consulting firm.
"They are one of the few promising local suppliers," he says.