Long Beach Transit (LBT) inspectors who visited electric bus manufacturer BYD’s Changsha, China facility have discovered that frames which were to be shipped from China to be assembled for future LBT buses contained major flaws.
According to the Long Beach Business Journal, the frames had “unacceptable” issues, including “improper bracket installation on the bus sidewalls and roof assemblies and inconsistencies with steel subassemblies on the chassis.”
The discovery follows a string of major criticisms brought forth against BYD. LBT Boardmembers Lori Ann Farrell and Maricela De Rivera—the only two board members who voted against providing BYD the contract—have been outspoken critics against everything from the Buy America capability of BYD to the skewed numbers the bus manufacturer provided in their RFP to their inability (as of September) to pass Altoona testing.
Micheal Austin, Vice President of BYD America, was optimistic in his response regarding the engineering flaws of the frames as well as the Altoona testing problems, asking Long Beach to have patience with the process and to regard the “serious ramifications” for the economy should BYD not produce buses in the U.S.
“As multi-national company, BYD had our choice of communities to join and set up shop,” Austin said. “Clearly, starting factories to create jobs in a foreign country can be challenging—and we have had our share of minor [missteps]. There is a great deal of interest abroad about this first Chinese vehicle company creating a California factory with California jobs to build zero-emission vehicles—failure has serious ramifications for your economy.”
Austin also pointed out the many pluses of the electric bus bid—LBT wanting to reduce pollution through zero-emissions buses, the creation of green jobs–and expressed confusion as to why local media was reporting on setbacks such as the Altoona testing issues, something Austin insists every bus experiences.
“In my opinion, this is a story that the media should be heralding to the world,” Austin said. “Long Beach is visionary, their media outlets should be proud, not criticizing the process.”
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