LANCASTER – China-based BYD and the City of Lancaster held a press conference Wednesday to announce the arrival of two BYD manufacturing facilities in Lancaster – an electric bus manufacturing facility and an Iron-Phosphate energy module (large scale battery) manufacturing facility.
“When you take China and put it together with the U.S., something different happens, something emerges,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris.
“BYD and Lancaster share the same eco dreams. We are committed to promoting new energy products,” said Stella Li, President of BYD Motors.
BYD, short for “Build Your Dreams,” is an international firm that specializes in rechargeable batteries, vehicle manufacturing and green energy technologies. BYD employs more than 160,000 people around the world, with operations in China, the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea, India, Taiwan, Hong Kong and other regions. BYD’s US corporate headquarters is located in Los Angeles, while the Lancaster facilities mark the firm’s first manufacturing facilities in North America.
“Walking in the footsteps of Antelope Valley pioneers, BYD is bringing jobs and economic growth and vitality to the Antelope Valley and Los Angeles County,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.
BYD has purchased the former Rexhall Industries recreational vehicle manufacturing facility in Lancaster, at 46147 7th Street West (now BYD Boulevard), to house its electric bus manufacturing operations.
Rexhall Industries will now combine its manufacturing operations with its sales facility on 23rd Street West, while President and Chief executive Officer of Rexhall Industries, William Rex, will stay on as General Manager for the new BYD Coach & Bus LLC. A number of current Rexhall employees will also stay on as the plant transitions to BYD ownership, city officials said.
“With this arrangement, BYD benefits from a ready-made fully-permitted facility which perfectly suits its needs, and will also enjoy access to the expertise of highly trained personnel with extensive experience in the manufacturing industry,” Parris said.
BYD has immediate plans to produce 10 zero-emissions, all-electric buses for the Long Beach Transit Authority, thanks to a $12.1 million contract awarded to BYD in April.
“It’s capable of manufacturing more than 1,000 buses per year,” Li said of the new Lancaster facility. “If we keep our aggressive schedule, production will begin in October of this year.”
BYD’s second manufacturing facility is located about two miles away from the electric bus facility, city officials said.
“It’s across the tracks at the old Budweiser plant,” Parris said, adding that Iron-Phosphate energy modules are much more than batteries.
“The goal is, when you have cheap electricity at night, from wind and things like that, if you could store that then you don’t have to power up the pollution producing plants during the day,” Parris said.
“A lot of people are doing clean energy, what we’re doing here is pure energy, there is no downside,” Parris continued.
The two manufacturing facilities, which will begin operating in the coming months, will provide local workers with hundreds of jobs as BYD expands its operations in the United States, according to Parris.
“Initially there will be 200 [jobs] and then it will expand after that,” Parris said. “A lot depends on how quickly other transportation agencies start ordering the buses, but that’s going to happen fast.”
BYD’s relationship with the City of Lancaster began in 2009 when Antonovich introduced BYD representatives to City leaders.
In 2010, Antonovich led a trade mission to China and invited Parris and City representatives to join the effort to attract firms to Lancaster. Parris and his team visited BYD’s headquarters in Shenzhen to further develop the relationship.
Upon returning to the US, Parris led an effort to partner with BYD and KB Home to create the “Home of the Future,” which used BYD solar panels, BYD LED lighting and BYD residential energy storage to create an affordable green energy home. (Read more here).
“This cemented the concept in my mind that BYD must be part of Lancaster’s future,” Parris said.