Chinese maker BYD plans U.S. expansion into other electric industrial vehicles


BYD Qin EV300

BYD Qin EV300

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It's been several years since Chinese electric-car maker BYD retreated from plans to sell cars in the United States, but now it may be ready to get more serious about the market.

BYD has found success in building and selling electric buses for public transportation agencies, but it has not yet launched a vehicle for private consumers.

The company plans to focus more on selling to the private sector in coming years, and to expand its efforts in heavy-duty electric vehicles as well.

DON'T MISS: China's BYD built more plug-in cars than any other maker last year

The latest information comes from CNBC after Stella Li, president of BYD Motors, discussed its future growth plans in the U.S. market.

BYD is one of the world's largest producers of electric cars.

The automaker sold more than 100,000 vehicles in 2016; in comparison, Tesla delivered 76,000 electric cars last year.

BYD K9 All-Electric Bus, as tested in Portland OR

BYD K9 All-Electric Bus, as tested in Portland OR

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BYD's expansion plans will center around its production facility in Lancaster, California.

There, it now builds electric buses, but Li said it soon wants to expand into electric waste trucks and electric forklifts.

Orders have already been scheduled for those future products from Facebook, Stanford University, and the University of California, San Francisco—a major shift from its focus to date on the public sector.

READ THIS: Can GM beat Chinese BYD as global electric-car leader? It plans to try

Initially, BYD was met with skepticism, according to Li, because most organizations and potential customers felt the company would not last in the volatile U.S. market.

However, today, BYD is one of the world's largest manufacturers of batteries and supports its product claims with a 12-year warranty on its units.

BYD hasn't completely won the world over just yet, though.

Chinese battery electric crossover: BYD e6 test drive, Los Angeles, May 2012

Chinese battery electric crossover: BYD e6 test drive, Los Angeles, May 2012

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Despite its array of battery-electric and plug-in hybrid models for China, it has yet to produce an electric car for sale the U.S. market.

The company did certify its battery-electric e6 taxi with the NHTSA, but has only delivered a very limited number to ride-sharing services in a few markets.

The most recent version of the BYD e6 carries an EPA range rating of 187 miles, but the company has shied away from an official announcement as to whether or when that car or any other could be offered for private sale.

CHECK OUT: 2016 BYD e6 electric taxi gets range increase to 187 miles: Forbidden Fruit

Instead, it has tested the BYD e6 with Uber drivers in Chicago.

When we drove the BYD e6 a few years ago, the interior fittings, quality, and materials were notably below the standards required of new vehicles in the U.S.

So while BYD has found success in providing electric buses, expanding into other categories of commercial vehicles clearly appears more appealing than the hypercompetitive global car market—at least for the moment.

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