Before the end of this year, Chinese manufacturer Byton will be accepting advance orders from European customers for its first electric model M-Byte – for a reservation fee of 500 euros. Byton has also revealed some details on the planned distribution and charging service.
Byton has announced that its first flagship store is to open at Zurich Airport. The announcement was made and a live webcast was held in the period meant for the Geneva Motor Show cancelled due to Coronavirus precautions. Here, Byton revealed they are planning to open what they are calling “Byton Places” at the Zurich Airport in the second quarter of 2021, before the European market launch planned for the end of 2021. By this time, some 20 Byton Places should be opened in Europe, including Oslo, Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris. Byton Places will not only be used to handle exclusive premiere events and test drives but also to introduce customers to the brand’s digital offerings.
The manufacturer is aiming for a “hybrid sales and service model”, this will be handled directly by Byton via the website and app’s own online channels online, but also offline with retail partners. The customer should be able to switch flexibly between these two communication channels.
Byton also confirmed that they currently have 65,000 M-Byte pre-orders worldwide – 25,000 of which are from Europe. Andreas Schaaf, Chief Customer Officer (CCO) at Byton, expects a total of 2.8 million electric cars in Europe by 2025 – including more than 700,000 premium vehicles. Byton is aiming for its own portion of this cake.
“Parallel to the upcoming sales launch in China, we have already found retail and service partners in our first European markets,” says Schaaf. The “first wave” countries include Switzerland, Germany, Norway, France, the Netherlands and Sweden.
For Sweden and Norway, Hedin Automotive will be the retail and service partner for the Chinese company. In France, a partnership with BYmyCAR has been established, while activities in the Netherlands will be taken over by the Louwman Group. In Switzerland, Modern Driving will be Byton’s trade and service partner. The company will offer 40 service points and seven test drive centres, as well as two mobile pop-up stores. Mobile Driving will also be the partner for the announced flagship store in Zurich.
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As yet, Byton has not named any partners for Germany. “In Germany, Byton has several options for partnerships, which will be announced at a later date,” iterated the company in a statement. In the webcast in place of the cancelled event in Geneva, Schaaf told electrive that several potential distribution partners are being discussed for Germany. “Germany is an important market for us, also because of its market potential”, said Schaaf. “Because Germany is so important, we want to find the right partner.” Which basically means nothing has been signed yet, hence no announcement. But according to Schaaf, something will be announced “in the next few weeks”. Schaaf went on to say that they have several locations in mind for Germany, but couldn’t say which until they have settled on the final choice of sales partner.
In view of the partners announced so far for the other countries, a well-known premium car dealership seems likely for Germany. In doing so, Byton would be taking a different path to the Chinese car manufacturer Aiways who is relying on direct sales in Europe, while the vehicles are to be sold in Germany via the electronics discounter Euronics.
However, the manufacturer can be more specific about its planned charging service, for which it has entered into a strategic partnership with Digital Charging Solutions (DCS). Together, the two companies will develop a “fully integrated charging experience” to enable customers to “travel long distances without problems”. DCS-Managing Director Markus Bartenschlager already stated in an interview with our German site electrive.net that they will soon start a charging service for an Asian brand – so now the cat is really out of the bag.
The planned service will give customers access to 150,000 charging points in 28 European countries, including major fast-charging providers such as Ionity, Fastned, EnBW, Allego, Innogy, Newmotion, Izivia and Swisscharge. In addition, the charging service is to be deeply integrated into the vehicle, so that charging can be carried out directly from the car if desired – alternatively, of course, billing is also possible via charging card, RFID chip or credit card. The costs should be based on the respective charging point provider and thus be invoiced according to time, consumption or as a flat rate.
With reporting by Sebastian Schaal, Germany
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