Buffet-Backed BYD Finally Bringing EVs to the U.S.?


BYD is an automotive company in name only for most Americans. That’s because the Warren Buffett-backed Chinese company, named one of our Most Innovative Companies in China, has yet to sell any of its much-hyped electric vehicles–or any of its vehicles, for that matter–in North America (the company sells a gas-powered car in China). And while BYD told us that it has three gasoline-electric hybrids set to debut in the U.S in 2012, we still have our doubts, mainly because the company first started claiming that it would put EVs in American showrooms in 2009.

Enter the electric bus. BYD plans to bring its 39-foot-long, all-electric bus to the U.S. this year, according to Autoblog Green. The electric eBUS-12 has had some time on the road already, unlike BYD’s other EV offerings–it is already operating in three Chinese cities, and one province has ordered a whopping 1,000 vehicles.

When it arrives in the U.S., the electric bus will likely be manufactured in Los Angeles (the future home of BYD’s headquarters here), with batteries shipped from BYD’s factories in China. L.A. plans to test the buses in its city fleet, and BYD expects other cities to do the same.

In addition to its slow-going EV business, BYD also manufactures lithium-ion batteries and last year invested $3.3 billion in building China’s biggest solar battery plant. But it seems that for the U.S., at least, the electric bus may be the company’s most prominent product.

Follow Fast Company on Twitter. Ariel Schwartz can be reached by email.AS