Foxconn—the Taiwanese firm best known for contract manufacturing Apple electronics—is helping to prop up Chinese EV startup Byton.
The two companies have signed a "strategic cooperation framework" with the aim of finally getting the Byton M-Byte electric crossover into production by 2022, Byton said Monday in a press release.
Under the agreement, Foxconn will provide manufacturing expertise, as well as "solid operational management experience" and "industrial resources" to aid in the production launch of the M-Byte. Foxconn will also invest around $200 million in the project, according to a Bloomberg report.
M-Byte crossovers will still be built at Byton's Nanjing, China, factory. Byton began ramping up pre-production there in early 2020, but ran out of money as the coronavirus pandemic hit China. Hence the need for the Foxconn partnership, as well as a delay to 2022 from the originally-planned United States launch date of late 2021.
In anticipation of that original launch timeline, Byton established a U.S. corporate presence in 2019, and announced a charging partnership with Electrify America.
The M-Byte itself was first shown in concept form at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. Instead of emphasizing performance or range (maximum range was previously quoted as 240 miles on the European WLTP testing cycle), Byton chose to focus on infotainment tech, installing a 48-inch curved dashboard display screen, with a smaller screen in the steering wheel.
For its part, Foxconn has been eager to enter the car business. Last year, the company announced its own platform for EVs, as well as solid-state battery tech under development. Foxconn and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) also entered a partnership nearly a year ago, although it related primarily to battery and connectivity tech.
Meanwhile, Foxconn's most famous client is also rumored to be developing a car, or related tech, at least. "Apple Car" gossip was reignited last month with a report that the company was targeting a 2024 launch of a complete vehicle—using next-generation battery tech.