Los Angeles area transit officials, in a national telephonic press conference, today praised BYD for its electric bus technology, which they described as “clean, silent, and efficient.”
“We are very excited that our parent company in China has invested in the United States to create a U.S. company and new jobs, bringing exciting green, electric transportation technology to America,” said Stella Li, the CEO of BYD Motors Inc.
BYD, which has administrative offices in Los Angeles and a factory facility in Lancaster, California, today rebutted what its attorney and spokesman, Lanny Davis, called “misinformed and inaccurate” press reports about wages and job creation at the company. Davis stated that BYD paid these five engineers approximately 60 percent above California’s minimum wage and is creating dozens of new California jobs in its work force and among vendors in its first year, with projections for many more in the next several years.
BYD was awarded three contracts in the last year: a contract to supply 10 electric buses to Long Beach, Calif., with options for more; up to 25 electric buses to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; and 2 buses to Antelope Valley Transit Authority in Lancaster, Calif.
The company, in which Warren Buffett was an early investor, uses breakthrough technology batteries. The BYD electric bus system, because of on-board chargers, does not require expensive charging stations and related infrastructure that can double the cost of an electric bus system.
BYD’s bus’s electric clean air technology is silent, efficient, and can be used anywhere there is standard AC power. This technology is specially designed to be used by transit authorities without changing the way they operate. The superior longer life and safer Iron-Phosphate BYD battery will last for the entire bus life – making the total cost of ownership less than a conventional air-polluting bus. Once a bus-life is over, and the bus is retired, the BYD-type batteries will be available for re-use for another 20 years, in non-transportation uses such as at home and in electrical utilities.
Among those Los Angeles Area transit and elected officials who participated in Friday’s press conference were:
- The Honorable Mike Antonovich, Los Angeles County Supervisor and LA Metro Board Member, Los Angeles Board of Supervisors member
- The Honorable R. Rex Parris, Mayor of Lancaster, California
- Richard Hunt, General Manager Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
- Ruben Gonzalez, Vice President for Public Policy and Political Affairs, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
- Janice Marsh, I/O Controls (BYD vendor)
Antonovich stated, “These environmentally clean and economic electric buses will benefit the people of Los Angeles.”
Hunt said, “The technology of this BYD bus system is truly break-through, especially the battery, which is long-lasting and safe and is superior to any competitor alternative that I know of.”
Mayor Rex Parris of Lancaster praised BYD for creating “new California high-technology jobs, not only at BYD but among BYD’s many California vendors.” These vendors, Davis wrote in his letter, included American Moving Parts, ZeMarc Corporation, I/O Controls, and Ricon Corporation based in Los Angeles and Transit Information Products, located in Concord, Calif.
“Above Minimum Wage”
On the issue of compensation, Davis, in his letter to the CEO of Long Beach Transit delivered and released today, stated that the five engineers from China who came here temporarily for BYD over the last 5-6 months were paid hourly rates ranging from $12-$16/ hour – i.e., substantially above California’s $8.00/hour minimum wage, despite published reports to the contrary. Indeed, Davis said, all BYD current engineers earn more than California’s minimum wages. Two have left and three will leave at the end of December.
New U.S. Job Creation
Davis wrote that in the last two years, BYD has gone from zero to 35 full-time new jobs, working in the administrative offices in Los Angeles and in the manufacturing facility in Lancaster. Of these 35, 21 are U.S. citizens and seven are green-card holders applying for U.S. citizenship, with others with various legal visas. The company is projecting about 100 new American jobs by the end of 2014 and about 200 by the end of 2015.
Compliance with Buy America Requirement; Testing Confirms Safety
In his letter, Davis also reminded the Long Beach Transit CEO that Long Beach Transit’s independent, pre-award audit confirmed BYD’s compliance the with the Buy America Act, with a commitment to use more than 70 percent U.S.-Manufactured content. As to ongoing testing in Altoona, Penn., Davis wrote that the Altoona tests have confirmed BYD’s bus’s safety, not revealing any safety issues, and that the unit tested in Altoona is essentially the same model BYD will deliver to Long Beach Transit.
“If you hear negative rumors or innuendo, certainly those reported in the newspapers anonymously,” Davis concluded, “please call BYD management or me personally and we will give you the facts.”