BYD Cuts Ribbon on New Hungarian Electric Bus Plant

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

China’s BYD Company, the Shenzhen-based new energy technology company, has opened its newest electric bus assembly plant in the Hungarian town of Komarom. The plant will officially be known as the BYD Electric Bus and Truck Hungary Kft.

The new plant sees an investment by BYD that will total some €20 million (or about HUF 6.2 billion) in the three years to 2018.

Currently, there are 32 employees of whom 68% are factory workers. Eventually it will employ some 300 people, the vast majority being locally recruited Hungarians with a technical background, who will assemble up to 400 electric buses a year on two shifts. Those buses will be exported to customers across continental Europe.

Initial output will be electric buses and coaches but other products will soon follow, including electric forklift trucks and then light commercial vehicles.

The plant consists of five buildings: a main office, a battery test and maintenance center, an inspection line and water leak test booth, a bus and truck assembly hall and a paint shop.

It is planned that the Hungary plant will produce the bus chassis for the UK (for assembly into complete vehicles under the BYD ADL partnership) and the newly announced BYD factory in France. There are plans to deliver up to 40 vehicles by the end of this year.

For BYD the more than 66,000 square meter complex is just the first of a series of European production facilities it is planning. The event today follows an announcement just two weeks ago of the acquisition of an 80,000 square meter site for bus making in Beauvais, to the north of Paris.

According to Isbrand Ho, Managing Director of BYD Europe, BYD is completely confident that it will need this extra bus making capacity. “The answer is simple – air quality – or, perhaps I should say, bad air quality, something which impacts the citizens of every major city worldwide. Not a week goes past without another report linking the serious detrimental health consequences of breathing polluted air and most of that pollution comes from road vehicles, largely diesel powered.

“City buses are not only a prime contributor to this but also, since they have totally predictable route patterns, are one of the easiest classes of vehicles to be electrified. Learning from the streets of major Chinese cities where poor air quality is not new, we are targeting our world leading battery technology on the city bus sector, although our ambitions stretch way beyond this humble type of vehicle.

“It is no coincidence therefore that BYD electric buses already make up the largest fleet of zero emission buses at a major international airport – Amsterdam’s Schiphol – and the largest fleet of electric city buses – in service on the streets of London”, Mr Ho said.

BYD and Berkshire Hathaway

In 2008, Berkshire Hathaway bet on BYD’s potential, purchasing 225 million shares. It’s an investment that has paid off handsomely. Berkshire’s original investment of $230 million is now worth roughly $1.77 billion.

For More on BYD, read the Special Report: BYD, Berkshire’s Tesla.

© 2017 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.