BYD has opened the first of its own bus plants in Europe in the northern Hungarian town of Komarom, an investment that will total some €20m (£17.1m) in the three years to 2018. Currently, there are 32 employees of whom 68% are factory workers in the 66,000 square metre complex. Eventually it will employ some 300 people, the vast majority being locally recruited Hungarians with a technical background, who will assemble up to 400 electric buses a year on two shifts. Those vehicles will be exported to customers across continental Europe.
It is planned that the Hungary plant will produce the bus chassis for the UK (for assembly into complete vehicles under the BYD ADL partnership) and for the newly announced BYD factory in France. There are plans to deliver up to 40 vehicles by the end of this year. The official name of the business is ‘BYD Electric Bus and Truck Hungary Kft’. Initial output will be electric buses and coaches but other products will soon follow, including electric forklift trucks and then light commercial vehicles. The plant consists of five buildings: a main office, a battery test and maintenance centre, an inspection line and water leak test booth, a bus and truck assembly hall and a paint shop.
MD of BYD Europe, Isbrand Ho, said, ‘Not a week goes past without another report linking the serious detrimental health consequences of breathing polluted air and most of that pollution comes from road vehicles, largely diesel powered. City buses are not only a prime contributor to this but also, since they have totally predictable route patterns, are one of the easiest classes of vehicles to be electrified. Learning from the streets of major Chinese cities where poor air quality is not new, we are targeting our world leading battery technology on the city bus sector, although our ambitions stretch way beyond this humble type of vehicle. It is no coincidence therefore that BYD electric buses already make up the largest fleet of zero emission buses at a major international airport, Amsterdam’s Schiphol and the largest fleet of electric city buses, in service on the streets of London.’