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USA: L.A. abuzz over electric-car maker BYD

When Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and officials from Chinese electric-car company BYD America meet today to open its North American headquarters, it will mark the end of a lengthy courting period and the start of what both sides hope is a long marriage.

The effort began with former First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner who convinced the Chinese manufacturer to come to Los Angeles.

But the details to be worked out over the past year have involved talks on everything from possible locations for a factory to drawing on L.A.’s star power and the Academy Awards.

BYD officials were initially reluctant to come to Los Angeles, bringing out a 12-inch thick book of regulations it would have to meet.

Villaraigosa instructed his staff to work with the company to deal with the regulations and develop attractions to lure the company.

Among these are displays of BYD’s vehicle in posters at LAX, adopting a 15 percent reduction on tariffs for zero emission vehicles coming into the Port of Los Angeles and a promise from the Department of Water and Power to install battery chargers within a week for those who purchase BYD cars.

“We see BYD’s Los Angeles opening as a catalyst that will usher in good jobs, global investment and a more sustainable future,” Villaraigosa said.

The company is expected to spend up to $100 million on construction, creating 1,600 construction-related jobs, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

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