By on December 16, 2010

We have covered the Governator wooing not-so-gloriously-doing BYD to come to California, well, at least with a headquarter building. We were also interested to hear that BYD “is in talks with officials in Los Angeles to supply all-electric battery buses in the city.”

The Wall Street Journal revisited old investigative reporting glory and did some thorough digging into the matter. And here is what transpired, all as per the WSJ:

  • It was LA’s first deputy mayor Austin Beutner who had convinced  BYD Co. to open its first U.S. headquarters in the city of angels. Schwarzenegger took the photogenic credit.
  • As an  inducement, LA city agreed to stock part of its municipal vehicle fleet with BYD’s all-electric battery car, powered by what the WSJ calls “generally still-unproven advanced lithium-ion battery technology.” The whole thing was dressed-up as a field test.
  • The city is also in talks to buy all-electric buses from BYD, which might eventually set up a factory to supply those e-buses to the city.

Now it’s beginning to make sense.

However, the WSJ found a fly in the ointment that greased the deal. “An individual close to BYD” ratted on the company and disclosed to the WSJ that what’s really holding up the the planned launch of BYD’s all-electric e6 sedan this year was not the woeful infrastructure that fails to deliver enough charging points. The source said that there was a problem involving possible intellectual property infringement with the lithium powder BYD uses in its car batteries.

That problem is now supposedly solved, but according to the WSJ, “questions over the legality of the company’s technology are bound to persist as the company begins test-marketing the e6 car next year.”

If BYD already has IPR problems in China, those problems could mount exponentially once the company plants stakes in the litigious U.S., especially in lawsuit-happy California, which is called “The Golden State” for a reason.

When asked, Beutner told the WSJ that the city welcomes investors, but “we expect all of them will comply with all applicable laws.” So there, problem solved.

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8 Comments on “What’s Keeping BYD From Coming To California? Patent Problems?...”


  • avatar
    blowfish

    it sounds like whatever happened in Middle Kingdom stays in MK.
    Welcome to Hotel Karlifornia ,  Lala land sounds like too enticing for a crab trap, once u check in but can never leave!
    I guess they aren’t coming.
    In US of A we have a different set of Laws, 1 is joint & several, it may burn Warren B ( he owns a small chink ? ) in the end too, so may not be such a swell idea.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    To my dear Californians, you may want to put your EV eggs into a different basket – it’s called the Nissan Leaf.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Car in banner photo looks like an uglier version of the Ford Edge… BYD seems to have copied the best looking parts of the car, the sides, and then extrapolated on the rest of the worst…

    • 0 avatar
      akitadog

      Actually, I gotta say that’s a subtly handsome car. I wonder how big it is. I can see it as a Mazda5 competitor if it’s mini-minivan-sized. Otherwise, it makes a good-looking cute-ute if it came with a class-appropriate I4, leaving the electric car shtick behind.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    We’re a top producer of natural gas, which is why it always pains me to see foreign made hybrid and EV buses in municipal bus fleets. Why the heck would we need BYD to build electirc buses for us when we could have them built here, which would create jobs here, and run them off our own supply? Are Americans not capable of building buses…or are they simply not allowed to anymore?

  • avatar
    blowfish

    Are Americans not capable of building buses…or are they simply not allowed to anymore?

    to ride on a new US built bus, probably the fare will be as much as a yellow cab.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I thought that one provision of the government loans to gm and chrysler was that they had to, at least study the feasibility of, build(ing) public transit vehicles … i assumed this was city transit busses.  How’s that workin’ out?


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