BYD e-bus

While the city of Long Beach, CA, could pit BYD and Proterra electric buses against each other in a race along the city's famed Long Beach Grand Prix route to determine the winner of the municipality's new bus contract, we know that's not going to happen. Instead, the city is debating its decision to award China-based BYD a $12.1-million contract for 10 business, reviewing the decision late last week, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports.

The contract, funded by the Federal Transit Administration and its efforts to move buses away from diesel and compressed natural gas engines, has become a point of contention and was most recently blasted by officials at South Carolina-based Proterra. That company questioned the BYD vehicle's reliability and durability and brought up the fact that those buses are made overseas.

BYD's Michael Austin called Proterra's comments "a smear tactic," and said the company had more experience producing electric buses than Proterra and noted that BYD, whose biggest shareholder is Warren Buffett, will eventually make the buses in California.

Last May, BYD won a contract with Windsor, Ontario for the first municipal fleet of all-electric buses in North America. BYD, which says its buses can go 155 miles on a single charge, also won a miles per gallon-equivalent contest that the Clinton Climate Initiative and InterAmerican Development Bank held in Colombia last fall.