BYD Co Ltd is eyeing a 30 percent share of the electric-bus market in North America after expanding its manufacturing facility in the United States.
The addition of a new wing to the existing facility in Lancaster, Los Angeles County, quadruples the floor space to nearly 138,000 square meters.
It will also mean the Chinese automaker will be able to produce 1,500 electric buses a year, the equivalent of 30 percent of the total market in North America.
But that is unlikely to happen for a few years, according to Andy Swanton, vice-president at BYD Motors, the US arm of BYD.
The facility, which the company stressed is the largest of its kind in North America, also supports research and development, and assembly for BYD’s electric medium-and heavy-duty trucks among other product lines.
“We have a local engineering team based in Lancaster responsible for the concept of our vehicles. We also work with our overseas engineering groups specializing in individual components,” Swanton said.
“So we leverage the expertise from global engineers to design new vehicles. To date, we’ve developed seven individual products for North America, and that has all been led by the team in Lancaster.”
The company also builds prototypes at the facility and does all the testing, validation and certifications necessary to sell products in North America.
BYD has delivered 137 electric buses in the US and Canada since 2013, including more than 75 delivered this year.
The Lancaster facility is producing an additional 300 buses based on orders.
The annual capacity before the expansion is 150 buses with a single shift, and the company will use the additional space for electric-truck production in the short term, Swanton said.
The trucks incorporate the same core components that are used in BYD buses and vehicles. By the end of the year, the company expects to deliver 70 electric trucks to 15 customers in North America, with orders for more than 140 trucks, according to Swanton.
“The electric-vehicle market in North America is here to stay, and it’s growing fast. That’s the reason for continued investment here in Lancaster,” a BYD spokesperson said.
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