Apple’s biggest manufacturer may invest $200 million in electric car startup

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Byton Byte
The Byton M-Byte was publicly unveiled at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show.
Photo: Alexander Migl/Wiki CC

Foxconn, Apple’s largest supplier, looks to be getting in on the electric vehicle business. According to a Monday report from Bloomberg, the Taiwanese manufacturer is in talks to invest in Chinese EV startup Byton.

Foxconn reportedly plans to invest around $200 million in the company to begin mass-manufacturing the anticipated Byton M-Byte car by Q1 2022. An announcement could come as early as today.

The report notes:

“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.

The point about diversifying beyond Apple is interesting. Foxconn has long tried not to put all its eggs in the Apple basket. This is particularly pressing at a time when Apple is in the process of dividing up its supply chain — so one part will service China, and another the rest of the world. While there’s no guarantee that this would negatively impact Foxconn, it would nonetheless represent a shakeup.

Byton, the company Foxconn is supposedly investing in, is one of the highest-profile Chinese EV companies. However, it faced a difficult 2020. Byton suspended operations in July and furloughed staff. Even prior to this, the company struggled to hit deadlines for producing and delivering its first vehicle.

Apple car project in the works

Apple remains hard at work on its own car project. The Apple Car has been rumored since 2014. Recently, Apple AI boss John Giannandrea took control of the project. Many predict the company will ship its debut vehicle sometime this decade, although specific timelines have been contrasting.