Friday, April 5, 2013
BYD to Build Electric Bus Assembly Plant in Lancaster
Long Beach Transit recently awarded a $12.1 million contract to BYD America to build all electric buses, the Shenzhen China based company has agreed to based its California assembly plant in Lancaster. According to news reports, On May 1, BYD will break ground in Lancaster, and they will target this plant for the U.S. and Latin American markets. Further Michael Austin, vice president of BYD America, Lancaster’s use of solar energy was a factor in the decision. “They’ve been very green,” he said. “They’ve been the solar capital of the United States for a while because they have such great solar resources.” The plant is reported to be located at an old RV manufacturing plant. The 13 acres is located in heavy industrial zoned area around Ave H in the northern part of Lancaster near Sierra Hwy. Austin further said via news reports that all the required permits were already in place. “Literally, we have a factory that is built to suit,” he said. “It is perfect because it launches us very quickly into manufacturing, even manufacturing starting this year.” BYD is expected to deliver the buses to Long Beach Transit in 2014. There is no indication as to how many jobs will be created. Austin indicated that jobs will depend on market factors, but estimated that one job would be created for each bus sold per year. The company expects to produce 50 100 buses in the first year. Long Beach Transit’s contract with BYD had been under pressure to take another contract instead of BYD. It looks like Long Beach Transit decision played a role in BYD's decision. Austin defended the decision, saying BYD was a Chinese company but BYD Motors was an American entity. “Half our investors are US,” he said. “Our largest shareholder is Warren Buffett. Those buses will be built using California labor, creating California jobs to create California buses.” The Long Beach contract is partly funded by the Federal Transit Administration, and BYD is backed by Warren Buffett. They are scheduled to deliver the buses in 2014. BYD also has a headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, so they have established roots here for about 18 months. Among Electric Buses, cars, backup batteries and photo voltaic solar panels among other products.