BYD to open North American electric-cars headquarter in LA


Chinese auto and battery manufacturer BYD Co. is locating its North American headquarters in downtown Los Angeles as they prepare to enter the American market with their electric cars. The office will employ 150 individuals by 2011. They will also base either American solar-panel and battery storage business in LA.

The plan is for BYD to start offering its cars to the California market before branching out through the rest of the United States, with retail sales beginning in 2011. They also aim however, to start offering vehicles to fleet customers in California late this year.

“By the end of next year, the plan is to offer several models,” said BYD Senior Vice President Stella Li, who will manage the company’s U.S. operations. The company is considering California auto franchise group Penske Automotive to initiate the dealer network.

The company”s goal is to provide American consumers with vehicles that use little or no gas and produce the least greenhouse-gas emissions. They will be in direct competition with Nissan, GM, Tesla, and Coda Automotive, a Santa Monica start-up.

Austin Beutner, deputy mayor of Los Angeles and chief executive of city economic and business policy estimates that in addition to the 150 jobs initially, the move will spur at least 1,000 more jobs in Los Angeles. The company also plans the sale of large-scale battery storage devices, and is in talks with the LA Department of Water and Power to supply a 10-megawatt system.

Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Suzuki, have all located their U.S. operations in Southern California.

– By: Stephen Calogera

Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)