Apple Inc. supplier Foxconn Technology Group signed a strategic cooperation deal with embattled Chinese electric-vehicle startup Byton Ltd. in a transaction that could mark a large bet by the iPhone assembler on the car-making business. The companies, aided by the Nanjing Economic and Technological Development Zone, aim to start mass production of the Byton M-Byte by the first quarter of 2022
The deal could represent a lifeline for Byton, which is struggling to produce its first vehicle having unveiled its M-Byte concept car several years ago. Under the arrangement, Foxconn will supply Byton with its advanced manufacturing technology, operation management expertise and supply chain resources. The Taiwan-based company is however also talking to other Chinese electric-car makers on potential collaborations, another person familiar said.
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.