North American electric bus market: A Quebecer in the running for Chinese giant BYD

Seeing Chinese world number one Build Your Dreams (BYD) arrive at full throttle in its rear-view mirror, Quebec-based electric bus maker Letenda has no intention of being overtaken by its Asian rival.

“BYD, I tried to work with them, but it didn’t work,” Letenda president Nicolas Letendre said last Wednesday after announcing that Vermont was buying four of its buses.

“For her [BYD], Canada is like Brazil or Europe, it says: “We come to the Chinese style. We’re building a factory. We pack our product in the way we think is best. “They don’t know the ins and outs of the market,” he argued, saying their bus was unsuitable for our climate.

Less known than Lion Electric, Letenda has its development center in Longueuil and a factory project in Saguenay. In addition, it has already piqued the interest of Vermont Governor Phil Scott, who came personally to the Council on International Relations of Montreal (CORIM) to commend his relationship with the Quebec company.

In all, the Quebec government invested $750,000 in preferred stock in Letenda, which also received a $1 million grant.

Its first majority shareholder is Nicolas Letendre. His deputy is his Vice President Jonathan Beaulieu. According to the commercial register, the third is the Japanese Mitsui & Co. (USA), Inc.

“David vs. Goliath”

As Prime Minister François Legault prepares to invest $2.6 billion to build and remodel garages and $2.4 billion to buy electric buses, the arrival of new players is being welcomed.

For Daniel Breton, CEO of Electric Mobility Canada (MEC), the manufacturer Letenda with its buses with a range of 250 kilometers can hope for a share of the 5 billion dollar cake despite tough competition.

“It is clear that it is David versus Goliath. There is Lion, which also makes smaller buses. The game will not be easy for Letenda, but the market is so big that there is room for several players,” he analyses.

According to the former PQ minister, it is surprising that BYD has not entered the market more aggressively given its clout.

“BYD is the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles. Warren Buffett didn’t invest in the company for nothing,” he emphasizes.

assets of $28 billion

Over the past two months, Warren Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, has reduced its stake in BYD but still retains shares.

At the head of China’s electric vehicle empire is one man: Wang Chuanfu, whose fortune is said to be around $28 billion forbes.

“To sell in the United States, we have to respect 70% of American components. In Canada, we charge 25% of Canadian components, leaving us with just 5% to play with,” concludes Nicolas Letendre.

BYD did not respond to our interview requests.

The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) bought four midibuses from BYD for $650,000 each, which were 95% subsidized by the federal government. Today, the STM says it is in talks with Letenda about a possible pilot project.

Foundation, endowment: 1995

The headquarters: Shenzhen

CHAIRMAN: Wang Chuanfu

Sales (2021): $29 billion

Result (2021): $762 million

Valuation: $135 billion

Employee: 288,200

Products:

  • city ​​bus
  • school buses
  • truck
  • forklift
  • energy blocks
  • Cableways
  • cars

Customers:

  • Antelope Valley Transit Authority
  • Denver RTD
  • Los Angeles Department of Transportation
  • Kansas City International Airport
  • forest hole
  • Anaheim Transportation Network

Source: BYD and Forbes

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