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Stella Li, senior vice president of BYD, said at a press conference that the carmaker would begin operating a plant to produce electric buses, which marks the firm’s first production line in the Americas.
“Today marks the first time a Chinese vehicle company opens a vehicle manufacturing plant in the United States,” she said.
BYD (“Build Your Dreams”) aims to produce more than 50 electric buses by 2014.
The company in April posted a first-quarter net profit of $18.2 million.
The BYD buses – which should be in service a year from now – will be Long Beach’s first all-electric vehicles.
The electric buses will be powered by the company’s own iron-phosphate batteries, which will be manufactured in a separate plant near the bus factory in the coming months.
The company’s electric bus, supported with BYD solar panels, LED lighting and energy-efficient technologies, can provide a range of over 248 kilometres on a single charge, among the highest in the world.
The manufacturing set-up could provide a boost to local employment and the economy.
When the vehicle plant reaches full production, Li said it could employ as many as 1,000 people.
Lancaster Mayor R Rex Parris said that the US and China also need to work jointly on environment issues.
“It brings a lot of tangible benefits. We gonna [sic] have jobs. We gonna [sic] have tax revenue, but more importantly, we are on the race to save this planet, and I think that America and China can work together on those problems and save the planet,” Parris was quoted by Xinhua.
Commercial counsellor of China’s Consulate General in Los Angeles, Shu Luomei said, “The Chinese government has always encouraged Chinese companies to invest in the U.S. We also hope that the U.S. government would support these enterprises when they invest in local economy.”
China-based BYD is a major manufacturer of rechargeable batteries in the world and has more than 160,000 employees globally.
The company’s US headquarters are located in Los Angeles.
Lancaster boasts more than 350 days of sunshine per year, making it the ideal place to pioneer new solar energy technologies.
With inputs from Xinhua