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The Chinese electric-car firm that hopes to win over Americans by building them taxis

If you drive around Los Angeles you just might spot a silent-running sport utility vehicle sporting an unfamiliar automaker’s badge. The electric car can go nearly 200 miles on a charge, and at the touch of a button its battery will power your house if there’s a blackout. The manufacturer is not some Silicon Valley startup but BYD, the $30 billion Chinese conglomerate. It’s quietly entering the US market by placing small numbers of of the SUV, called the e6, in corporate fleets.

BYD is best known in the US for its famous investor. In 2008, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway took a 10% in the company that makes, among other things, cars, batteries, mobile phones and solar panels. Earlier this year, BYD became the first Chinese automaker to open a manufacturing plant in the US. It retrofitted a defunct factory in southern California to assemble an electric bus. BYD has also built a battery assembly plant in California.


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