BYD Co. Ltd., the Chinese battery and electric vehicle producer with U.S. headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, plans to open its first wholly owned assembly plant overseas next year somewhere in California, according to a Monday news report.
Li Ke, senior vice-president of the Shenzhen-based company, said the factory will produce electric buses. The exact location is expected to be announced in March or April, according to reports from Xinhua News Agency and China Daily USA’s website. BYD plans to open the plant next year with capacity to produce 50 to 100 buses a year by 2014.
The Warren Buffett-backed company’s Chinese-made K9 electric buses cost $550,000 to $600,000 each and are expected to hit the U.S. market in March. The first customers will be Los Angeles International Airport, Apple Inc. and Stanford University, and California is expected to be significant component of the company’s customer base
BYD’s strategy is to expand its manufacturing closer to its customers, in part to control costs. Last week it signed a joint venture agreement with a Bulgarian company to open its first factory for the European market.