BYD Electric Bus

Long Beach Transit under fire for electric bus contract

Long Beach Transit (CA) will review a decision to purchase 10 electric buses from Chinese manufacturer BYD Motors after a challenge from a U.S. firm.

The board delayed awarding the $12.1 million contract after Proterra challenged the decision. In a 16-page letter, Proterra chief business development officer and general counsel Marc Gottschalk questioned Long Beach Transit’s move to use federal and local dollars to purchase vehicles from a China-based company with “a history of overpromising and under-delivering.”

Gottschalk questioned BYD’s record and commitment to the project saying that the vehicles have not yet been tested at the Bus Research Testing Center in Altoona (PA). “Long Beach Transit has at its disposal the second largest federal grant ever awarded for the deployment of electric buses – that it would go to a Chinese company that ‘plans’ to complete Altoona testing and ‘plans’ to build a U.S. manufacturing plant and ‘plans’ to be Buy America compliant someday in the future and has a record of making false and unreliable public statements – is unfathomable,” Gottschalk wrote.

BYD disputed the charges. “This is clearly a smear tactic,” said Michael Austin, vice president of BYD America. “BYD has far more experience with electric buses than any other competitor, Proterra included, and has far more experience designing buses, shipping buses and building buses than Proterra ever could. This is an act of desperation.” He said that BYD has scheduled Altoona testing for the proposed Long Beach buses.

Long Beach Transit president and CEO Larry Jackson justified his agency’s decision. He said, “It’s an industry just starting to form and everyone wants to do it, but not many are producing vehicles, particularly in the U.S. ” BYD’s Austin said that BYD Motors and BYD America are U.S. subsidiaries and that the company has satisfied all of Long Beach Transit’s requirements.

Austin added that BYD plans a manufacturing facility in California where the Long Beach buses will be built. “What’s ironic is that these jobs being created to build these buses are California jobs,” he said. “BYD could have opted to go to Greenville, South Carolina, like Proterra did, or opted to go to North Carolina, where DesignLine went. We could be in Canada, where New Flyer went. These are all competitors. But we choose California. We’re committed to California. These are California jobs that are being created to build California buses. ” Link to full story in Press-Telegram.

Photo source: BYD website

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  1. Long Beach Transit agrees to buy BYD buses - March 26, 2013

    […] The board agreed to review its decision last week after one of the losing bidders questioned the award. Proterra, which is based in South Carolina, argued that Long Beach Transit should purchase these federally funded buses from a U.S. company.¬†BYD officials called the protest “sour grapes.” According to the Press-Telegram, BYD beat out five other bidders. […]

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