LA Public Housing Inspector Makes Auto Journalism History

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
la public housing inspector makes auto journalism history

As the world’s first commercially-available ( ish) plug-in hybrid, the BYD F3DM is one of the few modern cars that can legitimately claim a piece of automotive history. In full knowledge of this fact, a younger, more innocent version of myself once sent a number of emails to every possible BYD PR contact I could find, in hopes of securing an early review of the car that ushered in the plug-in automotive age. Needless to say, I never heard back from BYD… but I expected that. What I didn’t expect is that, years later, I still wouldn’t be able to find a real in-depth review of this mysterious yet potentially groundbreaking vehicle. Apparently BYD is either extremely cautious about letting writers experience its vehicles outside of convention hall laps and round-the-block drives… or the automotive media has a very poor sense of history. Or, as is most likely the case, both.

Either way, this strange state of affairs just got stranger: thanks to, we now have the first report of the F3DM’s performance on American roads… from an LA Public Housing Authority inspector. Yes, really.

On December 14, the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (HACLA) received 10 F3DMs as part of a pilot program test fleet. Inspector Luisito Bacierto, speaking with, delivers his initial verdict on the F3DM’s stateside performance.

“If the battery is less than 25 percent [state of charge], the vehicle automatically goes from electric to H.E.V., which is the gasoline,” Bacierto said in an exclusive interview with “In that situation, it’s a different sound.” He described it as louder, more like a normal car. “It doesn’t bother me.” Bacierto added that the acceleration picks up in H.E.V. mode. “If you are going 55 miles per hour, you see 65 to 75 miles per hour [after it switches].” He said the switchover happened after 50 miles of driving on a full charge. Bacierto said the dashboard shows battery state of charge on a percentage basis—one of the metrics he is logging, in addition to miles driven, charge times, and amount of gasoline consumed.

Bacierto also goes onto describe

the overall driving experience as “smooth” and “not too fast, not too slow,” and compared the styling of the BYD F3DM to a 1980s Toyota Corolla. He said the charging process was easy. HACLA is not installing special charging equipment, but instead is using standard 220-volt outlets…

“With the Prius, I was filling up every two weeks,” Bacierto said. “The BYD car had a full tank in the middle of December. Yesterday, it’s a half tank. I haven’t put in gas yet.”

OK, so we would ask for more feedback on the interior and build quality, NVH attributes, and drivetrain characteristics as well as some solid performance and efficiency data, but for a novice to the business of car reviews, Bacierto’s doing pretty well for himself. After all, in the world of mainstream automotive journalism, it doesn’t really matter how well you write… it’s all about getting timely access to the important cars. By that standard, Bacierto’s got the car writing game in a chokehold with his exclusive look at the world’s first plug-in hybrid on American roads.

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2 of 17 comments
  • Omnifan Omnifan on Jan 26, 2011

    Workmanship is also suspect. Tried one out at the Detroit auto show. The carpet under the driver's feet was coming loose and the oddment bin on the center dash came completely out when you opened it. I would agree with the Corolla comparison.

  • Chris724 Chris724 on Jan 26, 2011

    How's the heater?

  • ToolGuy a) Coolb) My rocker panels are looking hopelessly outdated
  • Art Vandelay Tassos and EBFlex can watch videos of peter puffing while puffing each other's peters in this bad boy!
  • Art Vandelay When it is in electric mode it is so quiet that you can almost hear EBFlex and Tassos puffing each other's peters.
  • Art Vandelay They have to price them this high to keep EBFlex or Tassos from getting one and sullying the company's good name by puffing each other's peters in it
  • Art Vandelay EBFlex and Tassos can stream videos on YouTube now of them puffing each other's peters. They'll have to use a Mercedes for TikTok though