The Chinese maker of all-electric vehicles that gained a lot of attention in 2008 when investor Warren Buffett bought a 10 percent stake in BYD for$230 million, is now actively looking to build an electric-bus assembly plant in the States.
Micheal Austin, vice president of BYD America, broke the news to WardsAuto, adding that the company has not yet decided on the location for the plant. "Clearly, there are a lot sensitive negotiations that must go on before any of that happens," said Austin.
Nevertheless, the report noted that Xinhua, China's state-run news agency, which should know a thing or two (…) about the country's industry, has said that BYD will construct the factory somewhere in California.
BYD's first all-electric bus series is named the K9 in its home market of China. It measures 12,000mm (472.4 inches) long, 2,550mm (100.4 inches) wide and 3,200mm (126 inches) tall, and features 27 regular passenger seats (excluding the driver) and four foldable seats.
Power comes from in-wheel electric motors fed by a battery that allow for a top speed of 62.1mph (100km/h) and a driving range of up to 155 miles (249 kilometers) in urban conditions and around 190 miles (306 km) under optimal highway conditions. The battery can be charged via standard electrical outlet in six hours or through a fast-charging unit in about half the time.
BYD says the energy consumption of the Electric Bus is less than 100 kWh per 60 miles (96 km). The K9 also comes equipped with a solar roof that can charge the vehicle's battery.
According to Wards Auto, each K9 will cost between $550,000 and $600,000 (€417,000 to €455,000). A K9 demonstrator is currently employed as a car-rental shuttle for Hertz at the Los Angeles International Airport.
We'll remind you that BYD wanted to begin selling its all-electric e6 crossover in the U.S. in 2010 but has since constantly delayed its launch due to a variety of issues ranging from the late opening of its regional headquarters in Los Angeles to the lack of infrastructure for electric cars in the country. Now BYD says it will likely focus on fleet instead of retails sales.
Story References: WardsAuto