China's BYD electric bus factory comes online in California

Electric bus production has finally begun in California. Chinese electric automaker BYD recently completed its first two vehicles at its new factory in Lancaster, CA. They will be joining the fleet of the Antelope Valley Transit Authority in Los Angles County.

According to Bloomberg, the BYD factory currently employs 60 people and plans to grow to 200 workers by 2015. It will have an annual capacity of 200 vehicles by that time. The company already has a contract for as many 25 buses from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and is working with Stanford University as well. The people-carriers are also being evaluated by other cities around the US and Canada. A test in New York City found that they could drive about 30 hours between charges with a range of about 155 miles. Demand is doing well in China, too – the city of Dalian recently placed an order for 1,200 buses.

BYD has had a somewhat rocky path to get this factory working in the Golden State. Its $12.1-million contract with Long Beach, CA, was nullified because the federal government said not enough of the business went to minority-owned entities. The company was also fined $37,083 by California for alleged labor violations.

The automaker has plans to sell more than just buses in the US, though. Bloomberg claims that BYD is working to bring its passenger cars to the US, as well, with four models expected to be on sale at the end of 2015. It previously tried to break into the US market in 2010 but wasn't able to. Perhaps this second time will be a success.

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