BYD e6 electric crossover, Electric Avenue, 2010 Detroit Auto Show

BYD e6 electric crossover, Electric Avenue, 2010 Detroit Auto Show

While Chinese car company BYD exhibited its E6 all-electric crossover at the Detroit Auto Show last January, they've otherwise been fairly quite of late.

Now comes word that the company has chosen downtown Los Angeles as the location for its U.S. headquarters. Friday, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined BYD's chairman, Chuanfu Wang, on the steps of City Hall to announce the deal.

At its new offices, BYD--it stands for Build Your Dreams--will show not only its vehicles, but also its photovoltaic solar panels, battery energy-storage systems, and advanced light-emitting diode (LED) lighting products.

The company expects to develop versions of its Chinese-market cars for U.S. sale at its new location. The first of those is likely to be the E6 fully electric midsize five-seat crossover--roughly akin to a 2010 Ford Edge.

The E6 is said to offer up to 200 miles on a single charge of its lithium-ion battery pack.  BYD says it will reach 60 mph from a standstill in 8 seconds, and its top speed is 100 mph. Pricing has not been announced, but is expected to be around $40,000 before tax incentives.

Meanwhile, the company sold 450,000 cars in China last year--including the single best-selling model, its F3 compact sedan, which looks remarkably like a Toyota Corolla--and expects to sell 700,000 this year. That car uses a conventional gasoline engine.

The F3's resemblance to a Toyota Corolla is no accident. An article from Caixin Online earlier this year laid out in some detail BYD's modus operandi: Copy, copy, copy.

To give BYD its due, however, a version of that car, the F3DM, was the world's first plug-in hybrid when it went on sale late in 2008. Its sales, however, have been minimal. In late March, BYD and Daimler said the companies would develop electric vehicles for sale in China.

BYD has previously set and then discarded dates for putting its cars on sale in the U.S. It now says it will begin to provide cars to fleet users late this year, with retail sales early in 2011. Some industry observers are skeptical that the company will meet those dates.

Still, with investment from famed financier Warren Buffet, BYD is not a company to be ignored. Stay tuned for more news on the Chinese company that could. Maybe.

[BusinessWire via Yahoo Finance]