State and local officials announced Friday that Chinese hybrid electric automaker BYD Co. will open its U.S. headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.

China’s fourth-largest automaker expects to create at least 150 jobs here by 2011 as it rolls out its fleet of vehicles to California markets first before expanding throughout the country.

“By bringing global alternative energy companies to Los Angeles, we are securing our future and building the foundation for an emerging industry that will attract good paying, green collar jobs for generations of Angelenos,” said Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa during a City Hall press conference that included Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Villaraigosa’s new jobs czar, Austin Beutner, who negotiated the deal.

BYD plans to move into 1800 South Figueroa in the Downtown Business Improvement District during the fourth quarter. In addition to corporate headquarters, the building will house the company’s research & development arm, which will develop versions of their popular vehicles now selling in China for the U.S. consumer market.

“Installing a U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles well prepares us for distribution of our product throughout the United States and sets the stage for release our all-electric crossover vehicle, the e6,” said Chairman Wang Chuan-fu in a statement.

BYD, founded in 1995, was known for making cell phone batteries, but expanded into automobiles in 2003 and debuted China’s first mass-produced hybrid electric vehicle n 2008.

"BYD's decision to set up shop in the U.S. is no surprise -- the company said long ago that it wanted to have a presence here,” said John O'Dell, senior editor for Edmunds' GreenCarAdvisor.com. "It also should serve as yet another wake-up call for U.S. automakers - China expects to be the world leader in EV production and is going to aggressively market its electric-drive vehicles around the globe.”

The Business Journal last month reported that city and county officials had been wooing BYD for several months. Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich met with BYD executives both in China and Los Angeles.

“It would be a tremendous boost to our economy and economic growth and prosperity,” Tony Bell, spokesman for Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, said at the time.

Read an earlier Los Angeles Business Journal story about BYD.

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