What a difference a few months make in the life of a startup. Byton has gone through a building storm that erupted a few months ago. A founding member walked away just as or just before investors stepped in and changed the course of Byton.
The new Byton is closing a $500 million funding round. Some of that money, up to a fifth, will come from Chinese state-own car manufacturer FAW. According to Bloomberg, insider information shows FAW already invested about $260 million in the startup last year.
Carsten Bretfield, one of Byton’s founders and until recently its CEO, walked away and is currently heading Ioniq in Abu Dabi, the UAE. Ioniq is part of the W group. I spoke with Bretfield in Shanghai and in Los Angeles. He told me that he looks forward to building an international mobility company again.
As of now, Daniel Kirchert took on the role of CEO at Byton. He is very busy with the new strategy and direction the startup has suddenly taken.
Byton, What’s Next?
Byton will soon sell the M-Byte, made in its Nanjing factory, in China. We’re told sales in North America and Europe will happen mid-2020.
FAW is China’s third-largest automaker. The Byton–FAW relationship actually began in October 2018, when the electric vehicle (EV) startup took over a FAW subsidiary in Tianjin Huali. With a production license for China, Byton and FAW agreed to cooperate on autonomous vehicle technology, something Byton had a good lead on.
Overall, though, Byton is keeping a close lid on what it needs to do through this restructuring. As soon as we find out more, we’ll let you know.