Byton, a high-flying Chinese electric vehicle startup, is close to raising $500 million in fresh capital from backers led by state-owned carmaker FAW Group, according to Bloomberg.
If successful, the funding could value Byton at $2.5 billion, emblematic of the heady investor interest in China’s burgeoning electric car market, which accounts for half of all global EV sales, according to this report.
But there’s a wrinkle. Byton’s CEO, who oversaw development of BMW’s plug-in hybrid sports car, has left the company to join a rival. In April, Carsten Breitfeld became the CEO of Iconiq Motors, another venture capital-backed electric vehicle startup based in China.
China’s carmakers have been hit by sharp slowdown in auto purchases. Electric vehicles, supported by government policies, had been a bright spot in the market. But that’s been changing as subsidies have been reduced.