Chinese EV start-up Byton, led by former BMW-i manager Carsten Breitfeld, takes over FAW subsidiary Huali (Tijian) Automobile and thereby secures a production license for serial production of electric cars in China. Byton had already closed an investment agreement with FAW in summer.
Huali, a manufacturer of compact sedans and microvans, has struggled with loses in the last years and lately was barely capable of paying its employees. The transfer’s price is a symbolic 1 yuan, however, Byton will take over Huali’s debt, totalling 800 million yuan, gaining something in return that is very precious in China: a production license for electric cars.
As reported, the Chinese government has strictly limited the release of new licenses for vehicle production to prevent excessive manufacturing. Newcomer on the market basically just have two options: acquiring an existing carmaker or contract manufacturing to an existing manufacturer. Byton opted now for the first option.
It is not Byton’s first contact with state-owned manufacturer FAW: Earlier this year, FAW agreed to invest around 260 US dollars in Byton. Both companies also signed a strategic framework agreement to cooperate fields such as capital, technology platform, automotive parts sourcing, production qualification and after-sales service. When it comes to EVs, FAW considers to share and integrate its architecture with Byton’s platform to jointly develop next-gen electric vehicles.
Byton’s first EV is an electric SUV called M-Byte. It will roll off the lines in Byton’s production facility in Nanjing, China, and is supposed to be available in the People’s Republic by 2019. Market launch in Europe and the States is scheduled for 2020. Moreover, the SUV’s platform shall serve as a basis for an upcoming sedan and a mini van. The sedan called K-Byte has been unveiled at the CES Asia in Shanghai in June, but technical details have not been mentioned yet.