Tesla attacker Byton on the verge of collapse, ex-BMW manager flees to China

A year ago, the Chinese e-car startup Byton had very big plans: conquer the international e-car market and start mass production of e-cars in autumn 2020. This was announced by Byton boss Daniel Kichert, a former BMW manager, who was still confident at the time. There have already been 60,000 pre-orders for the M-Byte SUV from Byton, which was presented at the CES in January, as reported by the tech portal “t3n”. This year it should have shipped in Europe and North America. Nothing will come of it now. The startup has to stop production.

The coronavirus pandemic thwarted the former Tesla attacker. Almost half of employees in the United States were reportedly on leave last year. The around 70 German employees are also on short-time work – and, according to “Bild”, are now raising serious allegations against Byton and Daniel Kirchert: salaries and short-time work benefits are said to have not been paid for months.

Byton is said to have not yet filed for bankruptcy, but the building of Byton Deutschland GmbH, whose managing director Kirchert was, has been vacant for months and the lease has been terminated. The Munich I public prosecutor is also said to have issued an arrest warrant against Kirchert for delaying bankruptcy. He, in turn, has now gone to Hong Kong with his family.

Japanese and Korean donors have so far withheld investments

As reported in 2020, the startup hoped to get financial backing from Chinese authorities. Japanese and South Korean donors should invest up to half a billion dollars in Byton in 2020 and thus provide the company with relief from funding bottlenecks. The financing round failed: Several donors have so far withheld transfers that had been announced due to the coronavirus pandemic, reports, among others, the “ARD”.

The long break and the financial problems could now make it difficult for Byton to find their way back into the market and keep up with the competition such as Tesla, Volkswagen or Ford. According to experts, this could mean the final end for the e-car startup – but not necessarily for the M-Byte car, of which there is currently a prototype. According to “Bild”, a new investor has come on board, and a new management is to prepare series production for a new owner.


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