Unemployment in California city declines sharply thanks to BYD’s auto factory

An employee works on an electric bus at BYD’s factory in Lancaster, California on Sunday. Photo: Ding Gang/GT

The unemployment rate of Lancaster, California has fallen from 24 percent to 4 percent since construction of a factory for Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD started there in 2013, said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris Saturday.

BYD has become a model and its arrival prompted more investment in the city. Parris made the remarks during a visit by a Chinese media  delegation to the city.

The mayor said that to facilitate BYD’s investment, he helped the company find factory builders, canceled all administrative fees, and eased administrative obstacles. Even Wang Chuanfu, CEO and president of BYD, joked that Parris was “insane” during a phone call between the two.

Indeed, Parris is not “insane,” and what he has done was based on his 10 years of experience as the mayor. He knows what the citizens really want and what it means to be in power. He said that he worked like a mayor of China, bringing the parties together and reaching an agreement through prompt consultations and negotiations.

The BYD factory in Lancaster, which was completed in 2017, is the largest electric bus plant in North America, helping BYD obtain top technology, market share and sales in the field of electric bus manufacturing in the region.

With an annual production of 1,500 electric buses, the plant sells its products to a wide range of customers in more than 30 states, including Stanford University and Facebook.

BYD has grown into a leading manufacturer of electric buses from a small company that sold cellphone batteries when it entered the US in 1999.

BYD is the world’s largest manufacturer of electric cars. The factory in Lancaster has created nearly 1,000 jobs for the town of 160,000 inhabitants.

Though Lancaster is home to factories of renowned firms such as Boeing and Space X, BYD has become a new choice for locals thanks to the long-term and stable jobs it offers. Since the arrival of BYD, the crime rate of the city has dropped by 40 percent.

The mayor told the media delegation that one day, a stranger came up and shook hands with him. “Thank you for supporting BYD to build its factory here!” the man said. “I have a job. My two children also have jobs. One of them bought his first house.”

Parris noted that BYD has set a prime example of cooperation between countries with different cultural backgrounds.

He also expressed concerns over the possible negative impact on the cooperation that may be caused by Washington’s policies.

But he still looks on the bright side of China-US cooperation, saying confrontation will only lead to mutual losses.