BYD's US debut is late, under-staffed

BYD's US debut is late, under-staffed

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Shenzhen-based battery and automaker BYD (1211.HKG) opened its US subsidiary in Los Angeles Monday, but a year behind schedule and with fewer workers than originally promised, Bloomberg reported. The company, which is part-owned by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.NYSE), originally hoped to exploit the growing market for hybrid and electric vehicles in Los Angeles, but has delayed plans citing the limited availability of public charging stations. Instead it is trying to push its solar panels, LED lighting and rechargeable buses. BYD, which has been troubled by slowing sales in China, originally said it would hire 150 people at its US office, but so far it has only 20. It plans to bring the headcount up to 100 by the end of 2012. “Things like this are about planting seeds,” said Austin Beutner, the former Los Angeles deputy mayor who prepared a package bring BYD to Los Angeles, including offering more than US$2 million in incentives. “Some grow fast, some grow slow, but you’ve got to plant them.”