Gavin Newsom Pimps Chinese Electric Car Company BYD, the Same Company He Awarded a $1B Mask Contract

AP Photo/ Aaron Kehoe

During his trip to China to discuss climate change (and "combating xenophobia," but nothing else), California Gov. Gavin Newsom toured the Shenzhen facility of electric automobile manufacturer Build Your Dreams (BYD) and tested out their newest product.


Great! With a $3,200 down payment and a new car loan at, say, 6.34 percent, your payment will be only $3200 - and that's without California sales tax. Then we have registration fees, some of which vary by county and city in the state. If you live in Santa Monica, you can expect to pay $17,357 in registration fees on top of that purchase price. THEN, figure out what you're going to pay to charge it - when there aren't rolling blackouts.

If you're still excited about this vehicle, perhaps because you believe Gavin's law about outlawing gas-powered vehicles sometime in the near future in California will actually come to pass, you then have to hope that it won't stall out when going uphill. That's the problem BYD's electric buses have historically had, including fleets provided to various California agencies. From a May 2018 Los Angeles Times investigative report:

When Chinese battery maker BYD Ltd. approached Southern California officials in 2008 touting ambitious plans to build electric cars, local politicians jumped at the promise of thousands of jobs and cleaner air.

In the nine years since, agencies have awarded BYD grants, subsidies and public contracts worth more than $330 million for its battery-powered buses, forklifts and trucks. The company is positioned to be a prime supplier of electric buses to the nation's second-largest system, as Los Angeles' Metro sets a 12-year deadline to abandon fossil fuels.

But largely unbeknownst to the public, BYD's electric buses are contending with a record of poor performance and mechanical problems.

A Times investigation found its buses stalled on hills, required service calls much more frequently than older buses and had unpredictable driving ranges below advertised distances, which were impaired by the heat, the cold or the way drivers braked.


In November of that year, the City of Albuquerque returned their BYD buses:

Albuquerque, New Mexico Mayor Tim Keller has announced the city’s plans to reject and return all 15 of the electric buses manufactured by the US subsidiary of Shenzhen-based automaker BYD, also known as Build Your Dreams.

Although the city cited a number of quality and safety concerns ranging from electrical issues to brake failure, the chief issue seemed to be with the vehicles’ batteries. The contract with BYD calls for buses to operate for 275 miles, yet according to city officials, the buses are unable to go more than 177 miles before they need recharging. Mayor Keller also referenced problems with the batteries overheating and having inadequate fire protection.

Newsom's a continued fan, though. Since their electric vehicle business needed a little retooling, during the COVID-19 pandemic BYD switched to manufacturing PPE and landed a massive $1.4 billion contract with the State of California in April 2020. That contract was controversial because it was a no-bid contract, then BYD failed to get NIOSH certification in time and failed to deliver the masks as scheduled. Newsom could have canceled the contract due to that, but he didn't... he just wired them more money, and waited - while his state was locked down.


It was reported at the time that Newsom had received a $40,000 contribution from a BYD executive in the United States, who oversees their manufacturing facility in Lancaster, CA, and California Globe's Katy Grimes uncovered a trail of influence leading from BYD's lobbyist straight to Gavin Newsom:

The prominent lobbyist who represents BYD is Mark Weideman of The Weideman Group. The governor’s campaign received $40,000 from BYD’s automotive division.

Weideman also represents Bloom Energy, a fuel cell manufacturer in San Jose, which recently retooled its facility to rehabilitate ventilators for COVID-19 patients.

Weideman also represents NextGen America, owned by Tom Steyer, Newsom’s economic recovery committee chairman whose failed presidential campaign petered out in late February.

Mark Weideman’s wife is Jennifer Wada, an attorney who now has a government relations business – Wada Government Relations Group. It is not common knowledge even among Sacramento insiders that Wada and Weideman are married.

Wada previously was a partner in Wada, Williams Law Group. Her former law partner is Anthony Williams, who is now Gov. Newsom’s Legislative Affairs Secretary, although news reports from 2018 also called Williams Newsom’s “chief lobbyist.”

Even Vice wrote a negative article about the company in April 2020 criticizing its safety record and ties to the CCP. But that was only because the Trump-era FDA approved BYD's application to supply PPE to the United States. It's doubtful that Vice would even consider running this article today. (Don't worry; I've archived it.)


BYD is a major global player in the electric vehicle and lithium battery markets, it also has glaring red flags on its record, experts warn, including a history of supplying allegedly faulty products to the U.S., ties to the Chinese military and Communist Party, and possible links to forced labor.

BYD also has no history of making personal protective equipment, and yet days after the FDA approval, it secured a $1 billion deal to supply masks to California.

In fact, Congress was so concerned about BYD's ties to the CCP that a bipartisan bill banning the use of federal funds to purchase BYD's electric buses was passed that went into effect at the end of 2021.

And, links to forced labor? Newsom definitely won't ask his gracious hosts in Shenzhen about that. That might be xenophobic and disrespectful of their culture.

Newsom still claims that he is not contemplating a POTUS run, and says his office has coordinated with the Biden administration on this visit. However, he felt he needed to make a big point to Chinese officials by saying that no matter what happens on a federal level, Beijing's always got a friend in him.


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