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BYD Americas chief says Mexico plant by year end, but no plans for exports to USA

Image Courtesy: Yahoo Finance

Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD has no plans of selling its passenger EVs in the US and finds the market "complicated" and "confusing", the CEO of its Americas operation said.

Stella Li, who is also the executive vice president at BYD in addition to being CEO of BYD Americas, said the US market was "interesting", but added it was also too "complicated" because of its conflicting politics.

In an interview with Yahoo Finance's Akiki Fujita to discuss the global EV market, Li confirmed BYD was planning a new manufacturing facility in Mexico and would likely make an official announcement in the second half of the year. However, the Mexico plant will "only mainly support the Mexican market," Li said, adding: "We're not planning to come to the US."

"We're not even considering any northern state in Mexico," Li said, alluding to the typical strategy of setting up operations near the US-Mexico border. "We are targeting the local market. That is the BYD strategy," she said.

Asked why the company, which recently overtook Tesla to become the world's largest EV brand, would not venture into the US, Li said, "It's too complicated" and called the US "an interesting market," before adding it's "very complicated if you're talking about EVs."

She elaborated: the "US market is a little bit slow down on electrification and a lot of confusing." Asked if politics play a role, Li explained, "Everything is complicated. Politics complicate," she said, adding that this made things confusing for buyers: "They don't know which to choose."

Earlier this month, new reports had quoted the head of BYD Mexico as saying the company would build a plant in the country. The comments had sparked speculation of a US foray, since the Mexican auto manufacturing industry is closely integrated with the US market: BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen are among carmakers who run plants in Mexico to supply dealers in the US.

China's carmakers face a 27.5 percent tariff on vehicle imports from their home country, which has largely shut them out of the world's largest auto market. But BYD has grown rapidly in Mexico and news of the plan to build a factory there had raised alarm among Western competitors.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has warned authorities that Chinese carmakers would "pretty much demolish" the other carmakers if trade barriers weren't in place.

Renault's chairman Luca de Meo has called for an "Airbus solution" to take on Chinese competition, alluding to the time European governments pooled their aviation assets into one company to take on Boeing in the commercial aviation space. 

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