In March 2016 Dr Carsten Breitfeld and Dr Daniel Kirchert, together with a team of experts and investors, founded the Future Mobility Corporation (FMC) in Hong Kong. A business plan, investment planning, concept development and the establishment of a global model strategy were the first decisive steps, and on September 7th 2017, the BYTON brand was presented.
One year later, and over two years since the company was founded, these efforts go to show just how efficiently a car brand can be established and the technology behind it can be developed.
Right from the outset, the goal was to build a global company rooted in China and unite the advantages offered by the regions of China, California and Central Europe. Construction of the Global Design Studio in Ismaning, near Munich, Germany, began in July 2016.
At the end of 2017 the US Headquarters opened in Santa Clara, California, where the company’s main development activities are concentrated. In parallel, locations in China were established in Shanghai and Beijing along with the Global Headquarters in Nanjing. Currently over 1,200 experts work for BYTON globally.
An area near Nanjing was already agreed upon as a mass-production location back in 2016 with the support of the government of the Chinese province of Jiangsu. Construction work began there in September 2017, with prototype production commencing in April 2018. Initial test prototypes were used for crash testing, with the first drivable prototypes used for road and track testing under real-world conditions a short while later in August 2018. By the end of 2018 around 100 test vehicles will be on the road, some of them in the US.
The new factory is being constructed in parallel to prototype production. The first mass-production halls will have been built by October 2018. These will then be fitted out in stages with production facilities – such as for the body or paint shops. From early 2019 preparations will be made for mass production, in-line with the goal of supplying the first production vehicles in China from the end of 2019, with models following for the US and Europe in 2020.
In November 2018 BYTON will open its first BYTON Brand Store in the heart of Shanghai. The brand is also planning further BYTON brand-experience centres, each measuring between 500-1,000m2, in major international cities.
Dr Breitfeld, BYTON CEO and Founder, explained: “In our first year we demonstrated how successfully our international experts from the automotive and digital industry as well as within our design team are working together. This coming together of people of different cultures in Europe, Asia and the US gives our company a rare strength, which I’m proud of. At the same time, I am of course extremely delighted that the public and media grasped our concept of a smartphone on wheels straight away. To us, this is a sign that our approach is right.”
A healthy financial structure is what underpins the company’s success. Its first investment round raised $200m from investors, with a second round completed in June 2018 raising a further $500m. Investors include the FAW Group, CATL, Baidu, TusHoldings, China Merchants Capital and the Jiangsu ‘one belt and one road’ investment fund.