EV Maker Byton Suspends Operations, Chinese NEVs Enter Knockout Stages

Chinese electric vehicle (EV) start-up Byton decided to suspend its operations on the Chinese mainland from July 1. During the shutdown, only a small fraction of employees will be on duty to maintain the most basic functions of the company.

The announcement came after a nearly 5-hour long “All Hands Meeting” organized by CEO Daniel Kirchert and attended by over 800 current and former employees. Kirchert said it was a difficult decision, made due to the great financial pressure the company is facing, and they will use the period of time to discuss with shareholders to sort out the next step.

The EV maker announced during the meeting that with the approval of its board of directors, it will pay three months of unpaid wages by July 10 and the rest by stages as soon as possible. For employees who voluntarily leave their jobs by July 3, Byton will pay them the full amount of unpaid wages, but the number of places is “limited.”

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Reportedly, as of the end of May this year, there were less than 1,030 employees in the mainland, less than 340 in North America, less than 65 in Germany, and less than 15 in Hong Kong. Entering into suspension, less than 100 employees, 50% for production and 50% for R&D, will remain on duty in China offices. Byton’s North American and German offices have filed for bankruptcy, with around 10 people remaining in each office.

According to an email sent by Byton China HR, the suspension is expected to last for 6 months or shorter if the situation improves. The salary of all furloughed employees will be paid normally in July, and starting from August, the company will pay living allowance, social security and provident fund as required by local regulations.

Founded in 2017 by former BMW and Nissan Motor executives, Byton has completed four rounds of financing with a total amount of around $800 million. It launched its first concept car in January 2018. However, it has yet to deliver its first mass production M-Byte model.