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Chinese Auto Maker BYD Locating its North American Headquarters Downtown on Figueroa

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, April 30, 2010, at 11:59AM
BYD Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger welcomes BYD Chairman Chuanfu Wang (left) during a press conference to announce that the Chinese firm will be located its North American headquarters in Los Angeles.



Chinese alternative-energy auto maker BYD may not be a household name in the United States, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hope that it soon will be.

The pair of elected officials were among those at City Hall this morning as BYD Chairman Chuanfu Wang announced that the company is located its North American headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles and will be starting field trials of its electric vehicle here in the fall.

"This is a nightmare for the Texan oil companies," Schwarzenegger told those gathered.

Approximately 150 jobs will be created at the headquarters, which will be located at 1800 S. Figueroa, just south of the 10 freeway.

The site will be focused on marketing, sales, technical support and local product design for the company's green vehicles, solar panels and battery storage stations, Wang said through an interpreter.

"These jobs are high-paying, green collar jobs," Villaraigosa said. "BYD will be the core of L.A.'s green tech hub."

The company currently has two models of electric vehicle on sale in China, and produces its own battery technology. It intends to enter the U.S. market first through fleet contracts, then later by sales to the public.

As part of the deal to bring the company to Los Angeles, the city committed that those who buy vehicles from the firm will be able to get charging stations installed at their home or work within seven days. The city will be leasing several dozen of the vehicles itself.

"It's fabulous! What's not to like?" said Central City Association head Carol Schatz when asked her thoughts about the news. She praised the work of Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner in getting the deal done. "He is making a huge difference."

Wang founded BYD, which stands for "Build Your Dreams," in 1995. The company's auto division was launched in 2003. Its F3DM dual-mode electric vehicle was introduced in China in December of 2008, and the new e6 electric vehicle will start sales shortly.

BYD has a capitalization of approximately $35 billion. Billionaire investor Warren Buffet recently purchased a 9.9 percent stake in the firm and the firm's line of vehicles is on display at Berkshire Hathaway’s Annual Shareholders Meeting, which is going on now.

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