Green-leaning Chinese carmaker BYD Auto today announced plans to establish its U.S. base in Los Angeles, California. BYD (Build Your Dreams), which is 10-percent owned by billionaire Warren Buffet, has picked a location in the heart of LA's downtown business district and expects to be up and running there sometime in the fourth quarter.
In addition to showcasing its line of battery-powered vehicles -- including the upcoming e6 EV crossover that it showed this year in Detroit -- BYD plans to display a full range of its energy-efficient products, including solar panels, storage systems and advanced LED lighting setups. The facility will also house BYD's Research & Development arm that will fine-tune current versions of their domestic-market vehicles for the U.S. consumer market. BYD says it anticipates hiring about 150 people to staff this new operation in 2010-2011 as it prepares to launch its vehicle fleets, first in select California markets, and later throughout the country.
While BYD's bold move may strike critics as risky, the firm is definitely on a roll. China's fastest-growing auto manufacturer currently employs over 130,000 worldwide; and while it sold only 450,000 globally in 2009 that reflected a 170-percent increase from the previous year. BYD Auto also earned kudos from BusinessWeek for being the world's eighth most-innovative company and held down the 16th most-innovative ranking from Fast Company -- and was the only automaker to break into its Top 50. According to BYD's chairman Chuanfu Wang who attended the dedication ceremonies along with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: "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 of our all-electric crossover vehicle, the e6."