by Xinhua writer Guo Shuang
LANCASTER, the United States, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) — “I think the only problem we’re going to have is that I don’t know if we have enough people for all the jobs that are being created,” U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Friday in an event celebrating the opening of Chinese automaker BYD’s expanded facility in the U.S. city of Lancaster in southern California.
The BYD — the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles — literally stands for Build Your Dreams. It unveils here on Friday its expanded battery-electric bus manufacturing facility, North America’s largest of its kind.
The grand opening celebration drew nearly a dozen elected U.S. officials and government representatives, all extolling the significance of a Chinese investment that creates more and more jobs.
This expansion is an addition of a new wing to the current BYD Coach and Bus space, bringing the total manufacturing facility to nearly 42,000 square meters (450,000 square ft), quadrupling the size of its facility from its initial 2013 footprint, according to the company.
The growth of BYD Coach and Bus reflects a rapid transition toward electric transportation and will allow the BYD to build up to 1,500 battery-electric buses annually.
“The expanded BYD Coach and Bus manufacturing facility represents a fact I have stated for many years: that policies that address climate change and building a strong economy are not mutually exclusive,” said California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon.
Over the past several years, people in Southern California have seen a lot of manufacturing jobs go away, as American companies have moved their production lines to China and other developing countries.
However, since the BYD established its U.S. electric bus manufacturing capabilities in Los Angeles County, the company has already created nearly 800 full-time jobs throughout the state. And the manufacturing facility expansion will enable the BYD to hire up to 1,200 full-time workers at top production-line capacity.
“BYD is a company that has brought good paying manufacturing jobs back to California while other companies are choosing to export those jobs to other states and countries,” said U.S. Congressman Steve Knight.
“We need more companies like BYD in California that are training and building up a workforce of skilled individuals that are prepared for the manufacturing jobs of the future. We are lucky to have them in our community!”
Lancaster, a community of more than 156,000 inhabitants since 2013, boasts more than 350 days of sunshine per year, making it an ideal place to pioneer new solar energy technologies.
The BYD’s manufacturing facility is powered 100 percent by renewable energy, which is provided by the City of Lancaster’s Energy Company, Lancaster Choice Energy.
“It’s good for the economy and the environment. It is great to see Lancaster partner with sustainable energy industries in order to provide cleaner greener transportation that will benefit the quality of our air, while creating local jobs,” said Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragan.
The BYD has delivered 137 electric buses in the U.S. and Canada, including more than 75 buses this year, and is currently producing an additional 300 buses based on current customer orders, with options for more than 300 additional electric bus purchases. By the end of 2017, it will have delivered 70 all-electric trucks to 15 customers in North America, with orders for more than 140 trucks to-date, according to the company.
Commenting on existing technologies coming to California and exporting products in the state, Kevin de Leon said, “We rather have no exportations. We rather have these jobs created in California. This is what BYD did.”
“This is what it means to see the California dream and America’s promise,” said the California Senate leader.
The BYD’s nearly 800 employees in California were also on hand to help commemorate the new expansion for the Coach and Bus factory on Friday.
“BYD has really saved my life… Now I have a roof for my family, I have food for my family. And future is definitely full of hope,” Guillermo Garcia, who has been working for BYD’s manufacturing facility in Lancaster since 2013, told Xinhua, “We started here with seven employees, and I was one of them. Compared to four years ago, it’s a big change.”
Chinese companies invested a record 46 billion U.S. dollars in the United States in 2016, triple the amount seen in 2015 and a tenfold increase compared to just five years ago, according to a report jointly issued by the Rhodium Group and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations (NCUSCR).
“I think it’s a great partnership making the investment in America. The stronger China and America can become, the stronger the world will be,” McCarthy told Xinhua.
When talking about the BYD’s global strategy, Wang Chuanfu, founder and Chairman of the BYD, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview that the company aims to tackle pollution and traffic congestion.
“I think electric vehicle is a good solution for curing urban pollution,” he said, “This is just the beginning.”