December 12, 2012 / 12:05 AM / 5 years ago

China's Buffett-backed BYD to build cars, buses in Bulgaria

SHANGHAI, Dec 12 (Reuters) - BYD Co Ltd , the Chinese carmaker backed by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, will launch a joint venture in Bulgaria to produce electric cars and buses, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.

BYD and the Bulgarian energy firm Bulmineral signed the agreement on Tuesday to build an auto assembly plant in Breznik, a small town about 50 km west of Sofia, the report said.

The 50-50 venture will be named Auto Group Motors and is expected to deliver its first sample electric bus in February 2013, Xinhua quoted Bulmineral chief executive Alexander Usachev as saying.

The plant will produce 40-60 buses a month when it is operating at full capacity, Usachev said without elaborating.

The joint venture will also produce other BYD products, such as batteries and LED light bulbs.

Chinese automakers have been expanding their reach beyond their home market, the biggest in the world.

Last week, China’s biggest carmaker SAIC Motor Corp said it was planning to form a venture in Thailand with local firm C.P. Group Co Ltd.

Great Wall Motor Co is in talks to open a plant in India, an official at an Indian lobby group said on Monday, a move that would make it the first Chinese carmaker to operate in the country without a partner.

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