When Byton unveiled the M-Byte electric SUV in 2018, it seemed like a very credible EV that looked close to production and we were expecting to see it make its market debut in 2019, with full-scale production planned for 2022. That has not happened according to plan and in the meantime rivals (like XPeng or Nio) that didn’t seem as advanced at the time have launched similar models, and now Byton looks set to go under.
We last reported on Byton back in mid-2020 when the company suspended its activity and it was idling its factory, and we attributed that to the pandemic. However, the company doesn’t seem to have recovered in months since and now, according to Nikkei Asia, its main business unit, Nanjing Zhixing New Energy Vehicle Technology Development, is being forced in court by a creditor to begin the bankruptcy procedure.
The source points out that Byton’s troubles began in September of 2019 when several factors negatively affected the company: one round of funding led by FAW failed, there was a management change and then the pandemic hit. An unnamed source within the company familiar with the situation also said back then that
It will probably be very difficult for Byton to revive
Now, two years later, things are still not looking up for the company that in 2020 had some 1,000 employees in China and around 500 more in other countries, mainly the United States. Its main backer was China’s FAW Group, which has since shifted its focus to its own HongQi (Red Flag) brand, and early investors included Tencent Holdings, as well as the Foxconn Technology Group.
In September of 2020, Byton was looking to raise close to $300-million from FAW, but that didn’t materialize and a few months later Foxconn stopped its investment and then another backer, the investment arm of the Nianjing government also pulled its funding, making Byton’s recovery appear highly unlikely.