‘Doomed’ Chinese Byton to get back on its feet
Chinese electric car brand Byton that looked doomed in June due to the pandemic and had to shut down its operations in China, the US, and Germany, is to get back on its feet again under the flag of ‘Shenteng Auto’. It’s not clear yet whether the electric M-Byte SUV that was to be distributed in the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Germany, France, and Switzerland will make it to Europe in 2021.
On July 1st, the company that created the Byton brand was forced to cease operations, according to CEO Dai Lei due to the ‘economic pressure’, partly caused by the corona crisis. “The company is facing great economic pressure because the financing plan is not completed as scheduled.”
“It needs to temporarily suspend business operations and discuss with shareholders to sort out the next step, including continuing to discuss the company’s restructuring plan,” the CEO said at that time.
The workforce in Nanjing, China, with presumed production capacity from 50 000 to 150 000 cars, was reduced in China from 1 030 to some 100, of which 50/50 in production and R&D. In the US, at its technology development center in Silicon Valley where 340 jobs were at stake, and the design center in Munich, Germany with 65 people, only a handful of jobs were to be retained.
New name registered
On September 9th, Nanjing Shengteng Automobile Technology Co., Ltd. was registered as the new name of the company, with a capital of 1,5 billion yuan ($217 million). Still headquartered in the Nanjing Economic and Technological Development Zone. Byton’s former vice-president of R&D in China, Duan Lianxiang, having a 6,67% equity stake in Shengteng, is the new CEO.
A number of initial investors like the state-owned FAW Group’s Equity Investment and Nanjing Xingzhi Technology Industry Co. have subscribed to the capital of the new company. The Nanjing city government is said to have pledged to invest another $150 million. Meanwhile, the company started cautiously to hire again, according to Chinese media.
Midsize SUV EV at €45 000
The Byton M-Byte is an all-electric midsize SUV with a range of 360 to 460 kilometers that was announced for the first time at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas in 2018, later followed by a sedan version, K-Byte, showed for the first time at CES Asia in Shanghai.
Just before the major outbreak of Covid-19 in Europe in March, it was announced that in the Netherlands, the Byton-M was to be distributed by Toyota-Lexus importer Louwman, starting in the second half of 2021. In Norway, Sweden, Germany, France, and Switzerland Byton was to work with different importers.
The Byton-M would retail starting at €45 000, and pre-ordering was about to start as the coronavirus foiled the plans.