County Mayor Michael D. Antonovich was instrumental in bringing one of China’s fastest growing automakers to Los Angeles, according to a report from the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.
BYD Company Ltd. decided to open a new U.S. headquarters operation – along with solar system and electric vehicle assembly plants – in the city of Los Angeles following a series of transoceanic talks in which Antonovich and LAEDC President Bill Allen wooed company officials, the report said.
Antonovich, Allen and a delegation organized by an LAEDC subsidiary “met with BYD’s leadership in the U.S. and in China in 2009 to discuss the details of choosing Los Angeles County as their gateway to the North American market,” it said. “Southern California was seen as a strategic outpost for BYD because of its proximity to major infrastructure, including Los Angeles International Airport, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and several railways, and is home to major operations of other car companies such as Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Suzuki, and Mitsubishi.” (Honda’s sports car division is located in Santa Clarita.)
Founded in 1995 in Shenzhen, China, as a rechargeable battery maker, BYD entered the auto industry in 2003. Warren Buffett bought a 9.8 percent share in 2008; today the company is considered an emerging world leader in electric car technology. It sold more than 430,000 vehicles in China in 2009, more than double its 2008 sales.
It opened its U.S. plants Oct. 24, choosing Los Angeles City “in a competition that involved more than 100 sites we showed BYD in many different cities across L.A. County,” Allen said in a statement.