Electric cars: byton’s german subsidiary is insolvent

The automaker is apparently abandoning its international subsidiaries. But the future of the Chinese parent also remains uncertain.

At the IAA 2019: The M-Byton as it should go into series production.

(Image: heise online/spo)

  • Volker Briegleb

Chinese carmaker Byton lets its German subsidiary go bankrupt. According to an announcement, the Munich District Court has initiated insolvency proceedings for Byton GmbH. According to a report in Wirtschaftswoche, the insolvency application came from one of the company’s creditors.

The future of the Chinese parent company is also uncertain. Byton had entered 2018 with big ambitions and promises to deliver a competitive e-SUV for around 45.000 euros on the market. The company attracted a lot of attention with its appearances at the CES electronics trade fair, but a finished car has not yet rolled off the production line.

Production start-up failed to materialize

The company, co-founded by two former BMW managers, is in financial difficulties. Although Byton presented a production-ready model at the IAA 2019, the announced start of production failed to materialize. Byton actually wanted to start production in its own factory in China last year. Instead, the manufacturer had stopped operations altogether due to financial bottlenecks.

Officially, the company blamed the problems on canceled orders due to the Corona crisis. On the other hand, the Wirtschaftswoche quotes an insider that missing payments from business partners are the reason. Because several hundred million US dollars were missing, suppliers and employees could no longer have been paid. In the meantime, all German and American employees have probably been laid off.

Employees laid off

Byton had always emphasized the international nature of the company, with a design center in Germany and software development in Silicon Valley. The German employees in the Munich office and their US colleagues apparently did not receive a salary for months. In the U.S., the company had also already laid off most of its employees in April 2020.

M-Byte from Byton – exterior and interior (31 pictures)

The two BMW managers who co-founded the company are now also no longer on board. CEO Carsten Breitfeld had moved to the board of directors at the beginning of 2019 and eventually left for competitor Faraday Future. His successor in the boss’s chair, Daniel Kirchert, left Byton a year later and recently hired on with Chinese manufacturer Evergrande Auto.

Whether Foxconn’s involvement will create a stable perspective for Byton is an open question. At the beginning of January, the contract manufacturer had put itself in play as a partner and held out the prospect of a production start in the first quarter of 2022. Byton did not initially respond to a request for comment on Friday about whether the timeline still stands and what its plans are for the European market.

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