By on November 5, 2013

BYD-Electric-Bus-e1337188133189

In response to charges that it’s California electric bus building operation has been violating that state’s labor and minimum wage laws in the way it employs Chinese nationals, the company issued a statement saying that it is  “dedicated to ensuring that its employees are treated fairly” and that it would be hiring more American employees at its California electric bus factory. BYD explained that the Chinese nationals in question were engineers and experts that had been loaned by the parent company to transfer technology and train local employees and that they are not displacing any American workers. California labor officials had hit BYD with a $100,000 fine, charging that the company was paying its Chinese employees only $1.50/hr. The company is appealing that fine. BYD currently employs about 40 local workers at the plant. The state investigation was the result of charges by labor rights group Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy of minimum wage and other labor violations. Last week, BYD had said that the group was spreading “misinformation”.

BYD is stepping up efforts to sell electric vehicles overseas. The California facility is intended to supply contracts for electric buses for the Los Angeles and Long Beach municipalities. In Europe, BYD’s electric buses are in trial service in a number of cities and Amsterdam’s  Schiphol airport has ordered 35. The company plans to build those buses somewhere in Europe.  “We need to have around 100 sales in Europe to justify a plant and we believe that day is really near now,” Isbrand Ho, BYD Europe’s managing director, said in a statement. As yet no location has been chosen.

BYD electric buses have been tried out in Paris, Bremen, Bonn, Madrid, Barcelona, Salzburg, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Brussels and Budapest, and trials will begin in London as well. The electric bus is 12 meters (37 feet) long and is claimed to have a range of 250 kilometers (150 miles) in urban use, powered by lithium iron phosphate battery cells.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

16 Comments on “BYD Responds to Calif. Charges of Labor Violations & Fine With Promise To Hire More U.S. Workers As It Hopes To Expand Production To Europe...”


  • avatar

    As a Republican Conservative, I am AGAINST minimum wage.

    We’d be better off with higher EMPLOYMENT than higher pay for a handful of workers.

    Too bad the liberals never took Economics 101.

    I’ve never worked on minimum wage because I actually bothered to work hard enough tobecome skilled. My first job was as a cashier in a Mobile mart making $7.50 an hour when min wage was $5.75. My next job was computer specialist at Circuit City at $10/hr.

    These jobs are not for adults. They are for high school and college students working towards a career. People nowadays want top pay in mediocre jobs.

    • 0 avatar
      Wacko

      well good for you, now can we talk cars and not politics Bigtruck?

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      How is this relevant? Minimum wage is minimum wage. The fact that BYD is employing Chinese nationals does not mean that the company gets to skirt labor laws and pay those workers below minimum wage….that’s the point. It has nothing to do with Republicans versus Liberals. And while we’re at it, your ability to work your way up the system and purchase SRT8′s and Tesla shares does not reflect everyone else’s ability or desire to do so. You don’t just get to make a template out of your scenario and then pass judgment on those who don’t use that template…

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I assume that, as part of the deal to purchase BYD buses, California requested to have an assembly plant here in the US…..I mean, if Thomas Bus wanted to sell school buses in Shanghai, the Chinese would request the same.

    But apparently BYD, although it is indeed hiring some American workers, it is also hiring Chinese ones.

    This would be the ultimate outsourcing, paying third world wages right here, in US soil. And without paying any US income taxes.

    So, in my humble point of view, this is not a conservative/liberal issue, and California did the right thing this time.

    • 0 avatar
      Frankie the Hollywood Scum

      It is normal for companies to move engineers, business, and trades people to new facilities around the world for the purpose of setting up and training. However, paying a living wage in the place the workers are moved to is to be expected. I hope this is not a situation where passports and return plane tickets are held hostage until the worker does what the company wants.

      I wonder how our friends in the UAW will react to this.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    “Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy”? I think this story has legs.

  • avatar
    Toad

    Side note: Look at the front windshield on that bus; can you imagine what it costs to replace that thing?!?! One rock chip and that huge custom piece of convex glass is gone, and DOT requirements are very strict regarding rock chips and windshield cracks.

    A vehicle designer catering to fleet managers watching their expenses would never spec a windshield like that. But when your customer is the government…

    I see these crazy windshields on high end motorhomes all the time, but they rarely rack up many miles so the odds of replacing a windshield are somewhat smaller, and I’m not paying for it. But city busses put on lots of hard miles around lots of debris and that means busted windshields that taxpayers get to buy.

    It may be a small gripe, but it tells you something about the mentality that went into the design and purchasing requirements.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That’s a very good point. Buses need to be utilitarian. That’s not to mention the fact that the side panels are mostly covered by glass…

    • 0 avatar
      TCragg

      We actually replace very few windshields in the transit business. More often we replace door glass and side glass due to vandalism. The windshields, while expensive, last virtually the life of the bus.

  • avatar
    areader

    I happened to be in DC a few years ago when the new Chinese embassy was being built on Van Ness Ave just off Connecticut. The workers were all Chinese and living in what looked to be little more than shacks in back of UDC. There were what were apparently guards of some type standing where the workers would cross Van Ness when walking between their living quarters and the work site. I vaguely remember trying to talk to a worker one day and one of the guards came over. So this is nothing new. But what the hell. Either Chinese or hispanic illegals working in the construction industry. Just so we get somebody to work cheap and not complain when they get hurt.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    +1 This is actually a very good observation.

    Also, by the tinted color this must be a low-E glass, which makes it even more expensive.
    But even with low-E glass, the heat ingress when driving westbound on a summer afternoon would be tremendous.

    Wonder what range reduction would be(because of the excessive air-conditioning load) when driving in those conditions.

  • avatar
    TCragg

    I had an opportunity to evaluate a Chinese-market version of this bus about a year ago. At the time, BYD was attempting to drum up orders in the Canadian transit market. The production values were, to put it nicely, not ready for prime time. It looked like the life-sized version of a cheap dollar store toy. The design also did not even begin to meet ADA/AODA standards, so there was a good deal of expensive engineering required to make it viable in the North American market. Assembly in the USA would be necessary to satisfy “buy American” provisions for purchase by public-sector operators, similar to New Flyer, which while based in Winnipeg, performs final assembly in St. Cloud, MN. It will be interesting to see how this model fares in North America. While the concept had merit (zero-tailpipe emissions transit), the design wasn’t where the very conservative transit industry needed it to be to take the plunge, at least not then.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Let me get this straight, BYD says the employees being paid $1.50 are “engineers and experts”? According to Gemini.com’s survey of Chinese salaries, an engineer with 2-5 years experience makes 5000 to 11,000 RMB per month. That’s $820 to $1886/month. At 160/hours per month that’s $5.12 to $11.70 per hour. Not much by American standards but still a lot better than $1.50/hour.

  • avatar
    Freddie

    When the kid at the bike shop unpacks a Chinese bicycle from the carton and attaches the front wheel and handlebars, does that constitute “Made in USA”?. I suspect that is what is going on with BYD, token local assembly from a kit so the politicians can claim they created jobs. Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if this arrangement costs the taxpayers more than if completed buses were shipped from China.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India