Byton SUV conceptEnlarge Photo
A $500 million infusion from investors including an automaker and a major battery supplier could help Chinese electric-car startup Byton put its cars on the road by the end of next year, the company said Monday.
Byton said that its big investors—Chinese state-owned automaker FAW Group, Chinese lithium-ion battery developer CATL, and Chinese tech-investor Tus-Holdings—helped it raise $500 million in its latest round of Series-B fundraising that concluded Monday.
The investment could help Byton maintain its ambitious target of building prototypes at a Nanjing, China, assembly plant by April 2019 before full-production models go on sale there by the end of 2019. Byton previously has said that it plans for its vehicle to hit the market in the U.S. by mid-2020 and in Europe by the end of 2020.
The electric-car builder made a big splash when it brought a development prototype crossover SUV to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January.
At CES, Byton took the unusual step of taking media for a short ride in the vehicle. Unlike rivals such as Tesla that focus on charging times and self-driving technology, Byton emphasized its prototype's user interface with facial recognition software and advanced gesture controls.
Investments from FAW and CATL could provide Byton with access to more traditional car technology such as manufacturing and engineering expertise. Byton CEO Carsten Breitfeld told The Drive that CATL will lend a hand for the electric vehicles' batteries and that Byton plans to tap FAW for its production know-how.
On Monday, Byton also said that its new headquarters in Nanjing is officially open. Byton has a research and design office in Silicon Valley and a design center in Munich in addition to the Nanjing headquarters and assembly plant complex.