For the better part of the last five years, we've heard "The Chinese are coming!" in anticipation of an overwhelming tidal wave of cheap imported cars from the People's Republic. Other than a few auto show debuts of dated knockoffs, and some symbolic fleet sales, there hasn't been much movement yet. We recently reported on Great Wall's intentions of entering the U.S. market by 2015 with an SUV product, but it looks like BYD will get the distinction of being the first mainland China-based company to build vehicles in the U.S. But they're not intended for mainstream consumers. BYD is planning on building electric buses in the California suburb of Lancaster, about 70 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reports.
BYD is taking over a 110,000-square-foot former RV plant in Lancaster, and has plans to build as many as 1000 electric buses a year at the plant. The investment also includes nearby facilities to assemble the buses' battery packs. The city of Long Beach, south of Los Angeles, has agreed to purchase 10 of the plug-in buses, a deal worth $12 million.
BYD was reportedly attracted to Lancaster by its iconoclastic mayor R. Rex Parris, a Republican known for his reputation of opening city council meetings with prayer, as well as a recently passed city ordinance requiring all new home construction from 2014 onward to require solar panel installation. BYD senior vice president Stella Li was reportedly impressed by Parris' proactive approach toward attracting business to his city.
Source: Los Angeles Times