Electric vehicles

BYD finally wins California electric bus order in major step for overseas expansion

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 April, 2015, 12:07pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 April, 2015, 12:07pm

California’s Long Beach Transit will buy up to 60 electric buses this year from China’s BYD, the company’s biggest order to date from an overseas market.

BYD, partly owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, won the bid at a public hearing in Los Angeles on Monday, according to Sherry Li, marketing director of BYD’s overseas group.

“The first batch of 10 buses will be delivered later this year, and following orders for about 50 more would be announced after that,” Li said.

The contract win marks a major step for BYD in its push to sell overseas and comes after a year after the Federal Transit Administration ruled that the Chinese firm was ineligible to bid for a Long Beach transit contract because it did not submit goals for working with businesses owned by minorities or other disadvantaged groups, as required by the federal agency.

Li said the problem has been solved.

“The order means a lot to BYD as the US is the market with the toughest quality and safety standards.”

She said BYD also won a contract to sell five electric buses to the Japanese city of Kyoto in February. BYD electric vehicles are in use or being tested in 140 cities across 33 countries and regions, Li said, though she declined to say how many buses were running on streets overseas.

BYD is also negotiating with driver service firm Uber over the sale of a few hundred electric taxis for Chicago and New York.

The company has complained in the past that it found it hard to sell overseas because of a lack of recognition.

It has made slow progress in Hong Kong. In 2013, BYD’s chairman, Wang Chuanfu, predicted that some 3,000 e6 electric taxis would be on the Hong Kong’s streets. However currently there are only 45 e6 cabs in the city.

BYD announced last week it plans to sell 15,000 electric taxis and 6,000 electric buses this year. But Li said 95 per cent of the orders would be from the domestic market.

China’s transport ministry had said in March it aimed to add 200,000 buses and 100,000 taxis powered by alternative fuels by 2020. Many Chinese cities are plagued by heavy pollution, in part due to the rapid rise in the number of vehicles on the roads.