Quebec electric bus manufacturer Letenda, which sees China's world number one Build Your Dreams (BYD) speeding by in the rearview mirror, has no intention of being overtaken by its Asian rival.
“BYD, I tried to collaborate with them, but it didn't work,” explained Nicolas Letendre, president of Letenda, last Wednesday, after announcing that Vermont bought four of its buses.
“For them [BYD], Canada is like Brazil or Europe, it's: 'We're coming to the Chinese. We're building a factory. We package our product that we think is the best”. They don't know the particularities of the market,” he argued, saying that their bus is ill-suited to our climate.
Less known than Lion Electric, Letenda has its development center in Longueuil and a plant project in Saguenay. In addition, it is already arousing the interest of the Governor of Vermont, Phil Scott, who came in person to the Council on International Relations of Montreal (CORIM) to praise his relationship with the Quebec company.
In total, the Quebec government invested $750,000 in the form of preferred shares in Letenda, which also received a grant of $1 million.
Its first majority shareholder is Nicolas Letendre. Its second is its vice-president, Jonathan Beaulieu. Her third is the Japanese Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.), Inc, according to the Companies Registry.
“David against Goliath”
As Prime Minister François Legault prepares to put $2.6 billion into the construction and conversion of garages and $2.4 billion into the purchase electric buses, the arrival of new players is welcomed.
For Daniel Breton, CEO of Electric Mobility Canada (MEC), the manufacturer Letenda, with its buses with a range of 250 kilometers, can hoping to get a slice of the $5 billion pie, despite tough competition.
“It is clear that it is David against Goliath. There's Lion that makes smaller buses too. The game will not be easy for Letenda, but the market is so vast that there is room for several players,” he analyzes.
According to the former PQ minister, he is surprising that BYD has not yet arrived more aggressively on the market given its striking force.
“BYD is the largest manufacturer of electric vehicles in the world. It is not for nothing that Warren Buffett invested in the company, ”he underlines.
Fortune of 28 billion $
In the past two months, Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett's company, has reduced its stake in BYD, but it still owns shares.
At the head of China's electric vehicle empire is a man: Wang Chuanfu, whose fortune is close to $28 billion, according to Forbes.
“To sell in the United States, you have to respect 70% of American components. In Canada, we ask for 25% Canadian components, so that leaves a small 5% with which we can play,” concludes Nicolas Letendre.
BYD did not respond to our interview requests.< /p>
► The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) bought four BYD midibuses for $650,000 each, 95% subsidized by the federal government. Today, the STM says it is in discussion with Letenda for a possible pilot project.
Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my email@example.com 1-800-268-7128