Foxconn in Talks With Chinese EV Startup Byton for Funding

Foxconn in Talks With Chinese EV Startup Byton for Funding

Chinese EV Startup Byton Opens New Showroom

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Apple Inc. supplier Foxconn Technology Group is in talks to invest in embattled Chinese electric-vehicle startup Byton Ltd. in a deal that could mark a large bet by the iPhone assembler on the car-making business, according to people familiar with the matter.

Foxconn, whose main listed arm is Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., plans to invest around $200 million and the companies aim to start mass production of the Byton M-Byte by the first quarter of 2022, one of the people said, declining to be named discussing information that isn’t yet public. An announcement on the pact could come as early as Monday, the people said.

Such a deal, if it eventuates, would represent a lifeline for Byton, which is struggling to produce its first vehicle having unveiled its M-Byte concept car several years ago. Foxconn, based in Taiwan, is also talking to other Chinese electric-car makers on potential collaborations, another person said.

Foxconn representatives didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Byton declined to comment.

Tech companies are increasingly pouring money into developing next-generation cars, including all-electric vehicles and the smart technologies that go with them like autonomous driving and car-to-car communication systems. Foxconn is the single most important production partner for Apple, which is reportedly considering developing a self-driving car of its own. Foxconn is also seeking to diversify a business that depends on the U.S. smartphone giant for half its revenue.

Tesla Supplier

In early 2020, Hon Hai announced a plan to form a joint venture with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV to develop and make electric vehicles in China, though it won’t be involved in any assembly itself. In October, the Taiwanese company unveiled its first electric-vehicle chassis as well as an open software platform that’s aimed at helping EV makers deliver models to the market faster. It will start shipping its first developer kit in April. The Foxconn group has been supplying parts to other major carmakers including Tesla Inc.

“The electric vehicle-related business will be very good in the first half of 2021,” Hon Hai Chairman Young Liu said at a company event in Taipei last month.

Hon Hai’s shares extended gains Monday morning after analysts at JPMorgan and Wedbush forecast robust iPhone sales, and were up almost 8{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} in afternoon trading.

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