BYD opens American operations in California

2009 BYD F3DM – Click above for high-res image gallery

Wondering when Chinese automakers will begin selling vehicles in the U.S.? Well, at least one automaker is already here, with plans to begin selling vehicles within the next year.

The Glendale Press-News reports that BYD has already set up shop at a dealership in Glendale, California in preparation for the launch of its new electric and gas-powered economy cars. The Chinese automaker already copies copies of the vehicles on California roads, as the Housing Authority of Los Angeles has 10 vehicles on lease. Those 10 vehicles are being serviced by BYD employees, and at the same time the company is using the dealership to help train technicians before retail and fleet sales begin late in 2011 or early in 2012. The retail store being used, Car 911, is owned by Onnik Mehrabian. The Press-News says Mehrabian hopes to one day own a BYD store. We hope he's set up to sell light bulbs, too, because that may be the price of entry.

And that electric car BYD plans to sell? The automaker claims it will retail for about $32,000, or roughly the same price as the Nissan Leaf. While it's probably not realistic that an unheard of Chinese automaker plans to price their EV on the same level as that of an established make, the BYD will reportedly travel 200 miles on electric power. That's about twice as long as the Leaf. Beyond that, we've heard on several occasions that an automaker from China or India has plans to sell their vehicles Stateside, and it hasn't happened yet.

[Source: Glendale Press-News]

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