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Buffett-Backed BYD to open electric-truck plant in Canada

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Employees manufacture electric vehicles at the BYD Coach and Bus factory in Lancaster, Calif., last month. Photo credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

TORONTO — BYD Co., the Chinese electric-vehicle maker backed by Warren Buffett, plans to open its first assembly plant in Canada, anticipating a surge in demand for electric trucks from municipalities and businesses.

BYD will open the plant next year in Ontario and hire about 40 people to start, BYD Canada spokesman Ted Dowling said in a phone interview. The Shenzhen-based company has decided to “significantly” accelerate its investment in Canada as growing demand for electric vehicles and provincial tax incentives create a more welcoming environment than the U.S. in the short-term, he said.

“There is less of a barrier to entry when it comes to having Chinese products in Canada compared to the U.S.,” Dowling said. The company, which is partly owned by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., declined to say where in the province the plant will be, how much it plans to invest or any government incentives it was offered. It expects to make an announcement in a few weeks, Dowling said.

BYD’s plan comes as countries shift to electric vehicles to combat climate change and reduce health risks. The U.K. and France plan to ban sales of diesel- and gasoline-fueled cars by 2040, while China has said it will set its own deadline. Some Canadian provinces are offering thousands of dollars in rebates to electric-vehicle buyers, and companies are moving toward electric fleets, with grocer Loblaws Cos. unveiling its first fully electric truck last week.

A spokesman for Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development and Growth declined to comment on any investment from BYD.

Garbage trucks

BYD will start its operations in Ontario by shipping technology and components from China and making short-range vehicles such as garbage and delivery trucks, said Dowling. The company intends to expand, hiring more people to add more Canadian content in the future, he said.

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