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Exclusive | Byton adds Japanese trader Marubeni to its Series C round investor roster

The two companies have also established a strategic partnership in ride-hailing service, power and energy solutions, and the production and sales of Byton models overseas.

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Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker Byton has on Thursday signed up with Marubeni Corporation, one of the top five Japanese trading companies, in a deal that adds the company to the expanding investor roster of its ongoing Series C funding, local media 36Kr reported citing people close to the matter.

The two companies have also established a strategic partnership in ride-hailing service, power and energy solutions, and the production and sales of Byton models overseas.

Byton previously revealed that the Series C funding targets to raise USD 500 million from investors including China’s oldest automaker FAW, governmental funds affiliated with Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, and South Korean auto parts supplier Myoung Shin.

Marubeni is the fifth-largest trading company in Japan, with its business covering a wide range of sectors including metal and mineral resources, energy, auto and industrial machinery, and power business.

China’s EV makers are currently experiencing a tough time as the total EV sales in the world’s largest EV market slumped for a fourth consecutive month in October, dropping 45.6% year-on-year to about 75,000 units.

Fundraising activities for EV makers were progressing slower than expected, as many investors hesitated or stopped pouring cash in this money-burning industry, which will result in many difficulties for these startups.

Byton’s Series C round was originally scheduled to close by the end of June, but has dragged on since then. The EV maker announced that the mass production of its first EV, the Byton M-Byte, which features a 48-inch screen that spans the dashboard, will be delayed until mid-2020, half a year later than its original schedule.

Other companies are also having a hard time. Nio has reported a far bigger than the expected net loss of USD 478.6 million in the second quarter of 2019, an 83.1% year-on-year increase. It had fulfilled less than 30% of its sales target by the end of July.

WM Motor, formed by several former Geely executives, was being sued by the automaker for allegedly infringing upon trade secrets. Geely is seeking RMB 2.1 billion (USD 292 million) in compensation.

36Kr is KrASIA’s parent company.