- Title: Electric bus maker BYD highlights China complications in Biden climate push
- Date: 14th July 2021
- Summary: LANCASTER, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (JULY 1, 2021) (REUTERS) BYD FACTORY FLOOR SIGN READING (English): '500 BUSES BUILT IN LANCASTER, CA' VARIOUS OF BATTERIES ON BUS WORKER WORKING ON EXTERIOR OF BUS VARIOUS OF FACTORY WORKERS (SOUNDBITE) (English) FRANK GIRARDOT, BYD SPOKESMAN, SAYING: "So we manufacture electric buses and coaches primarily here in this facility, which is in Lancaster, California. We have actually the capacity to do 1500 buses a year here, about 40 percent of the nation's capacity. The buses are entirely manufactured here." VARIOUS OF INTERIOR OF PARTIALLY COMPLETED BUS EXTERIOR OF BUS (SOUNDBITE) (English) FRANK GIRARDOT, BYD SPOKESMAN, SAYING: "We don't want them to be impacted by this. We have hundreds of people working in this factory. And, you know, the idea of this bill is to put them all out of work. And, you know, we're fighting hard every day to, you know, elevate the discussion about what we do here and why it's important for America." WORKER ROLLING BUS WHEEL ACROSS FLOOR VARIOUS OF WORKERS (SOUNDBITE) (English) FRANK GIRARDOT, BYD SPOKESMAN, SAYING: "You know, a lot of, a lot of people say that we're controlled by China and that's not true. And the fact of the matter is that we are a privately held and publicly traded company. Warren Buffett owns a significant number of shares in this company. Then when we explain that, the next argument that comes up is subsidies. People say, well, you know, you receive subsidies from the Chinese government to undercut other bus manufacturers. Well, it's not true. We bid on the same jobs all throughout the United States that other bus companies do. We win some, we lose some. Subsidies that we receive in China are subsidies for employment and sorts of things that happen over there that are the same subsidies that are offered to Tesla, Johnson and Johnson, BorgWarner, all sorts of American companies. To suggest that somehow it makes an unfair or unlevel playing field is a red herring." VARIOUS OF WORKERS SIGN ON BUS (SOUNDBITE) (English) FRANK GIRARDOT, BYD SPOKESMAN, SAYING: "We hope that it's not going to have any effect on us or on the market. We do expect, though, that if for some reason, we're not able to sell our busses to transit agencies that, you know, is going to shrink the number of people that can sell the busses. It'll slow down the amount of time that those busses will be available to communities. And most importantly, it'll cause the prices to go up. This is not what the Biden administration is looking for when it talks about building back better and replacing 50,000 diesel buses with clean energy electric buses around the U.S.." SHELLS OF BUSES
- Embargoed: 28th July 2021 11:47
- Keywords: BYD Build Your Dreams U.S. President Joe Biden electric buses zero-emission buses
- Location: LANCASTER, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
- City: LANCASTER, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Government/Politics,United States
- Reuters ID: LVA001ELJYRT3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A California electric bus factory just north of Los Angeles looks like a vision of President Joe Biden's battery-powered, American-manufactured, climate-friendly future.
Some 500 unionized workers assemble battery packs, weld frames and install seats, steering wheels and fare boxes, making zero-emission public transportation on a factory floor at BYD North America the size of nine American football fields.
Converting transit buses to battery or fuel-cell power is considered one of the fastest ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, which at 29% accounts for the largest share of U.S. emissions.
But BYD, a unit of China-based BYD Co Ltd, is ineligible for billions of dollars expected to flow out of Washington in coming months to electrify bus fleets, due to a 2019 law written with the company in mind.
BYD North America spokesman Frank Girardot said BYD is going to fight the decision because it does not receive funding from the state through its Chinese parent company.
"People say that we're controlled by China and that's not true. And the fact of the matter is that we are a privately held and publicly traded company," Girardot said.
"We have hundreds of people working in this factory. And, you know, the idea of this bill is to put them all out of work. And, you know, we're fighting hard every day to, you know, elevate the discussion about what we do here and why it's important for America," he said.
Taking out one of the two main players in the electric bus sector, even with other rivals expected to ramp up production, means Biden will be hard-pressed to quickly electrify the nation's bus fleet, endangering a key piece of the president's climate agenda, transportation experts warn.
The ban also threatens one of the few examples of unionized labor in the green economy, a pillar of Biden's economic agenda, and marks the latest test in the strained relationship between the U.S. government and companies with ties to China.
A White House official expressed confidence the country can ramp up production, saying a combination of robust federal funding for zero-emissions buses paired with support to vehicle and battery manufacturers would "build sufficient domestic capacity to support an accelerated transition to EV buses."
Biden and a group of bipartisan lawmakers have agreed to spend an unprecedented $7.5 billion to replace some 50,000 diesel buses - or roughly 70% of the U.S. transit fleet - with electric buses over the next eight years, as the administration aims to cut U.S. emissions in half by 2030.
(Production: Jack Ferry, Jane Ross)
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