Two Asian transportation companies that recently built manufacturing plants in the Antelope Valley reported major progress this week fulfilling orders from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Chinese manufacturer BYD Motors Inc. delivered five electric buses on Thursday made in Lancaster to the agency, better known as Metro. The Metro board also unanimously voted to exercise options for an additional 60 rail cars being manufactured in Palmdale by Japanese company Kinkisharyo USA Inc..
The $263 million rail-car order brings to 235 the total number ordered by Metro. The cars will operate on the Blue, Gold and Expo lines and a planned extension of the Expo line to Los Angeles International Airport.
“These cars will be built in Palmdale by Antelope Valley residents thanks to the strong regional support for Kinkisharyo’s quality of product and location of its U.S.A. manufacturing plant in Los Angeles County,” said L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, whose district includes the Antelope Valley, in a prepared statement.
Kinkisharyo USA, the El Segundo-based U.S. arm of Kinki Sharyo Co. Ltd. of Osaka, is already doing final assembly on the first 78 cars ordered by Metro. The remainder of the cars will be manufactured in space the company is leasing from Los Angeles World Airports in Palmdale.
Meanwhile, the 60-seat BYD buses delivered to Metro will be tested for about six months during peak morning and afternoon hours on lines in the downtown area, according to Metro spokesman Paul Gonzales.
“We will see how that goes and then incrementally increase that,” he said.
Metro has an option to purchase 20 more of the electric buses. After the testing period, it will evaluate the results to determine when and where the buses will be put into full service.
“Los Angeles County is an excellent laboratory of this type of testing,” Gonzales said. “Our people are accepting of new technology to a great degree.”
BYD opened its Lancaster factory in May 2013 and delivered the first two buses about a year later for use by the Antelope Valley Transit Authority. The company also has a facility in the city for assembling the battery packs used in the buses.
Materials used in making the buses are all sourced from the U.S. except for the steel chassis, which is shipped in from China.
Metro took possession of the buses on Thursday in an event attended by BYD Co. Ltd. Chairman Chuan Fu Wang, Antonovich and officials with the transit agency.