Byton M-Byte SUV gearing up for production

Chinese electric start-up Byton will begin initial production of its M-Byte SUV this summer, ahead of volume manufacturing by the end of 2019 – but will do without company co-founder Carsten Breitfeld.

The former BMW i-division boss is set to step down as Byton CEO for a new, undisclosed role within the start-up industry.

“Carsten helped build a strong Byton brand and bring in the right people to take our start-up to the next level,” Byton co-founder and CEO Dr. Daniel Kirchert. “Now we are focusing on our main goal to achieve the on-time-start-of-production of the first Byton series production model in 2019 with our strong team and partners.

“Thanks to our founding team and all employees we’re well on track and looking forward to delivering the M-Byte this year to customers in China, followed by the US and Europe in 2020.”

The production version of the M-Byte will be built at the company’s Nanjing facility, which is on schedule to open within the next three months. The car will then debut in the Chinese market towards the end of the year, ahead of the introduction of the K-Byte saloon in 2022.

Byton will appoint a new CTO shortly, as it prepares to close its final round of investment funding. It recently secured £385 million to help it take on established players such as Tesla.

The big question: how will Byton succeed and actually make money where other EV makers have failed?

“First, we have economy of scale. This is a low-margin industry so you need the volume. The Nanjing plant isn’t a little shop, it’s 300,000 vehicles [per year], hence the platform strategy and cost engineering so we can offer them at £35,000. Second is the fact the cars are built in China, which really keeps your cost base down. Thirdly, the kind of technology we have plus the connectivity of the car is going to generate revenue streams that we don’t even know about today. Up until 2006 we thought that telephones were for making calls; now they generate a bunch of revenue we didn’t even think of back then.”