(Bloomberg) -- The United Auto Workers’ strike “damages” the US auto industry at a time when President Joe Biden seeks to attract manufacturing investment, said Stella Li, Americas president for BYD Co., the Chinese EV and plug-in hybrid maker.
“All of the auto companies are facing a challenge from electric vehicles. It’s already very hard for them,” said Li in an interview in Mexico City on Friday. “On the one hand, the US is putting a lot of money toward this, and on the other, this strike is scaring everybody away.”
BYD has no plans to enter the US passenger-car market but it’s selling electric buses in the country. The Inflation Reduction Act — which offers tax credits of as much as $7,500 toward consumer purchases of EVs manufactured in North America — has made it too expensive for the Chinese firm to operate in the US market, Li has said previously.
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That hasn’t stopped BYD from looking to the US’s southern neighbor or the rest of Latin America. BYD is considering construction of an EV factory in Mexico after announcing plans to open a plant in Brazil, Li said. This week it launched the new Dolphin subcompact vehicle in Mexico.
The company has partnered with Mexican retailer Liverpool for vehicle sales and charging stations at its stores. BYD also announced a 1,000-vehicle sale last year to Mexico provider VEMO to expand its EV taxi fleet. And it has partnered with Mexican conglomerates Coca Cola-Femsa, Lala, Bimbo and Cemex to supply electric trucks.
BYD, which stands for “Build Your Dreams” and is backed by Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has also been investing in lithium production in Brazil and Chile, the nation with the biggest reserves of lithium. It’s also evaluating options in Mexico.
“BYD is now a leading battery manufacturer, so we need a lot of lithium globally,” said Li.
Li shrugged off concerns that Mexico’s close ties with the US market would hurt BYD.
“In reality we have been to many states in Mexico and the governors welcome us. They really want BYD to invest in their state,” said Li.
(Corrects to reflect that BYD stands for “Build Your Dreams.”)
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