Federal funding ban hits BYD in US

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A ban on federal transit funding for manufacturers linked to China was introduced by the US government in mid-December, reports the Washington Post. The funding restrictions, a result of the two countries’ economic competition, especially when it comes to emission-reducing technologies, were aimed at BYD which has invested in a US facility for building zero-emission buses. The unionised factory employs hundreds of people in a struggling part of Los Angeles County.

Frank Girardot, a BYD spokesman, told local media that the company is a global business with American investors that happens to be headquartered in China, and said that it is being unfairly targeted in the United States. “We’re not China,” he said. “We’re a private company. We’re a union company.”

Sentor Sherrod Brown, Chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, told the newspaper he didn’t take lightly the step of levying restrictions on a unionised company. “But it’s simply a false choice to think that the deployment of electric buses means we must rely upon Chinese state-supported enterprises in perpetuity,” he said. “Plenty of electric, pollution-free buses can and will be made in the US, including by US-owned companies. American taxpayer dollars will not be used to prop up companies tied to the Chinese government.”

Federal Transit Administration figures from 2020 showed 1,369 zero-emission buses on the road in the US, including trolleybuses and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. 205 of those were made by BYD, whilst 338 and 598 of the total were produced by North American manufacturers Proterra and New Flyer respectively.