LOS ANGELES, April 3 (Xinhua) -- China's leading electric vehicle maker BYD said on Wednesday that it has rolled out the 300th bus at its Lancaster manufacturing plant in the U.S. state of California, marking a milestone for production.
The 300th bus, a 35-foot BYD K9S model transit bus, is one of three built for the Capital Area Transit System of Baton Rouge, capital of the U.S. state of Louisiana, the company said in a release.
"We are very proud of this 300th American bus milestone. We are passionate about our mission to create a cleaner environment here in North America and across the globe," BYD President Stella Li told Xinhua.
In a celebration with its customer Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) on Wednesday, BYD said that AVTA is closing in on a landmark of its own as it expected to realize 1 million miles of zero emission bus operations in early May.
AVTA has ordered 85 electric buses from BYD, and 25 buses have been delivered up to now, according to the company.
Li called AVTA a model for transit agencies seeking affordable green technology -- especially those in California needing to comply with state regulations requiring zero-emission fleets by 2040.
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris termed the 300th bus as "the tip of the iceberg." He said BYD has created hundreds of well-paying American jobs with more on the horizon as the company expands its product lines of battery electric buses, trucks and forklifts.
"There were some skeptics when BYD chose Lancaster as home to its operations. Now these same skeptics are true believers, as they watch this world-class company continue to literally change the world for the better," said the mayor.
Since delivery of its first U.S. battery electric bus in 2014, BYD has provided buses for customers in 13 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces.
"As the first Chinese vehicle company setting up a manufacturing facility in the United States, BYD has not only achieved impressive business success, but also made significant contributions to local employment growth and social and economic development," said Shi Yuanqiang, deputy Chinese consul general in Los Angeles.
"BYD is a perfect combination of technology, engineering and innovation of China and the United States, which yields mutual benefits and win-win results," Shi said.
When BYD opened its Lancaster manufacturing plant in 2013, it had a handful of employees working on 10 buses in a 106,000-square-foot (9848-square-meter) building that once housed a motorhome manufacturing facility, according to the release.
In just six years, BYD has grown to become the largest battery electric bus manufacturer in North America, with more than 750 employees.
Since acquiring the facility, BYD has increased its manufacturing plant to over a half million square feet, with the capacity to produce as many as 1,500 buses a year.
From one bus model under production in 2013, BYD's product line has expanded to include 12 models, the most of any e-bus manufacturer in the market, according to the company.
As public transportation accounts for a vast portion of air pollution, BYD wants to offer multiple zero emission model choices to meet various demands in the market, and to make the transition as easy as possible, said Bobby Hill, BYD's vice president in charge of coach and bus, North America.
He told Xinhua BYD now has more than 50 municipal, transit agency, university, airport, federal and other commercial and private-sector bus customers in the United States.
According to BYD, it has spent 70 million U.S. dollars in 2018 on components and services from American vendors, many from southern California. In all, BYD has invested more than 250 million dollars in North America.