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Harbor City truck maker announces deal to export green drive systems to China

January 25, 2011 |  3:25 pm

A Los Angeles County heavy-duty truck, tractor and electrical systems maker announced a deal Tuesday to export $15.9 million worth of electric vehicle drive systems to China to power buses.

Balqon Corp., based in Harbor City near Long Beach, said it expected to hire 150 workers over the next 18 months to build 300 electric vehicle drive systems to power buses that can carry 15 to 40 passengers each.

The drive systems are being purchased by Winston Global Energy, a Shenzhen, China, company owned by Chinese entrepreneur Winston Chung, who is also a major shareholder in Balqon, founded in 2005.

Speaking at a news conference at the University of Southern California, Balqon Chief Executive Balwinder Samra said the deal is an important step toward making Los Angeles into a center for green-tech jobs. "This order from Winston Global Energy validates the competitiveness of our technology in the global marketplace and will result in the creation of high-tech green jobs,” he said.

Speaking through a translator, Chung said that the partnership is an integral part of his plan to make electric-powered vehicles a dominant force in the industry and predicted that by 2025, “emission vehicles will disappear from the world.”

The drive systems are versatile and could be used in a variety of vehicles, including yachts, Chung said. Though he has an interest in developing an all-electric yacht, this particular order will be used only for buses, Chung said.

Last week, Chung announced an agreement with another Southern California company he owns, MVP RV of Riverside, to manufacture 30,000 motor homes here and export them to China, creating about 1,200 jobs for the Inland Empire.

Chung became the majority owner of the RV firm last year. Chung would not rule out moving manufacturing operations for the RVs or the drive systems to China in the future. On Monday, he announced a $10-million donation to UC Riverside’s engineering school, the largest in the school’s history.

-- Stephen Ceasar