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Defense Authorization Act Threatens BYD’s U.S. E-Bus Sales

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

China’s BYD could find its growing presence as a supplier of eBuses in the United States cut short if the current version of the National Defense Authorization Act become law.

The NDAA contains a key provision barring federal dollars from being used to purchase passenger rail cars or buses from state-owned or state-controlled enterprises, including BYD, which assembles its buses at its plant in Lancaster, California.

The plant employs some 750 workers, and was recently scheduled for expansion.

Proponents of the bill cite cybersecurity concerns.

BYD has been receiving an increasing number of large order for its eBuses from municipalities, including 130 of its eBuses that were ordered by LADOT for Los Angeles’ “Green New Deal” program, which aims to have the entire LADOT fleet be run with zero-emission buses before 2030.

BYD has already sold 460 eBuses in Southern California alone, and if the NDAA is enacted in its current form the company would be immediately banned from selling to Washington, DC’s Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro). The bill bans both buses and railcars.

“BYD’s electric vehicles are increasingly popular with municipalities, airports and other customers across the United States, and we will work to redouble our sales and continue deliveries of high-quality vehicles to our customers,” BYD said in a statement. “This unfortunate decision rewards a special interest misinformation campaign to squash competition in the electric bus sector and could weaken American competitiveness, threaten hundreds of union jobs and undercut our country’s fight against climate change.”

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 has grown in value almost ten-fold, and is now worth roughly $1.96 billion.

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

© 2019 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.