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Chinese automaker has major American ambitions

Chinese automaker BYD plans U.S. offerings by 2015
Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images

It was reported yesterday that Chinese automaker BYD, which stands for Build Your Dreams, is reaffirming efforts to launch a line of vehicles in the United States by 2015.

The company had earlier aimed to roll-out low cost Chinese-made cars in 2010, but the global financial meltdown forced the firm into a lengthy reorganization.

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"We don't want to compete on price anymore, but on quality and innovation," said Stella LI, senior vice president of BYD's U.S. operations.

Anyone doubting the Chinese automaker's renewed plan to break into the American market would be wise to keep two things in mind.

First, BYD is already manufacturing all-electric busses at a newly built plant in California. The first models, built for municipal governments around the country, will be delivered in March.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the company is partially owned by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway. The billionaire investor's firm purchased a 9.9% percent stake in the automaker back in 2009, meaning that the import brand could have some very deep pockets backing it up.

BYD is not alone among Chinese auto companies looking at entering the United States. Geely, a Hangzhou-based manufacturer, acquired Volvo in 2010. That firm has since begun rolling out select offerings in several European markets, with an eye towards a 2016 launch in the United States.


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