China's automaker to open 1st US plant

Updated: 2013-05-02 19:40


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LOS ANGELES - Chinese carmaker BYD on Wednesday announced plans to open the first manufacturing plant in the US city of Lancaster, southern California.

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 North America and South America.

"Today marks the first time a Chinese vehicle company opens a vehicle manufacturing plant in the United States," she said.

BYD, standing for "Build Your Dreams", aims to produce more than 50 electric buses by 2014. The first 10 zero-pollution vehicles, which have already been ordered by the city of Long Beach, southern California, will roll off the assembly line next May.

All those 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 kilometers on a single charge, among the highest in the world.

The arrival of the two manufacturing facilities will provide local community with hundreds of jobs as BYD expands its operations in the United States, and also represents a significant investment into local economy and in California.

When the vehicle plant reaches full production, Li said it could employ as many as 1,000 people.

But it's not just about jobs. Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said that it is also about solving global warming.

"It brings a lot of tangible benefits. We gonna have jobs. We gonna 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 told Xinhua.

Commercial Counsellor of China's Consulate General in Los Angeles, Shu Luomei said, "Chinese government has always encouraged Chinese company to invest in the US, and the US is a huge place. We also hope that the US 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.

The city of Lancaster is a community of more than 156,000 inhabitants in northern Los Angeles County. Lancaster boasts more than 350 days of sunshine per year, making it the ideal place to pioneer new solar energy technologies.