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Byton electric SUV sets sights on UK fleets

Chinese carmaker Byton has begun talks with fleet finance companies and dealer groups in the UK, ahead of launching right-hand drive versions of the electric M-Byte SUV in late 2021.

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The company sees Europe as a strategically important market for its first production model, with 25,000 of its 65,000 global pre-orders coming from the region. Customers in Norway, Sweden, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland will be able to place €500 (£435) downpayments in the second half of this year, with deliveries early in 2021.

Right-hand drive markets will follow 12 months later, according to chief customer officer, Dr Andreas Schaaf. A UK network of dedicated ‘Byton Places’ is already planned, augmenting online and app-based sales, and the carmaker is forming partnerships with large dealer groups, parts distribution and servicing companies, mirroring infrastructure which has already been put in place across Europe ahead of the launch.

The M-Byte is slightly larger than a BMW X3, and built on a dedicated EV platform with a choice of 72kWh or 95kWh battery capacities and two- or four-wheel drive, offering a WLTP range of up to 286 miles. It also supports 150kW high-speed charging, and Byton has partnered with Digital Charging Solutions, providing access to 158,000 charging points on 450 national and international networks, all within a single membership. The carmaker is targeting a €45,000 (£39,000) starting price in all European markets.

Schaaf believes the UK represents a “huge” opportunity, and fleets will be an important component of its sales mix. “[Fleet] is an example of the need to work with strong partners,” he said.

“You can try to turn the whole environment upside down, and [say] we [will] do everything differently but, in many markets, in the UK, in Germany and the Netherlands, the corporate business is [really important]. So you really need to have that in mind. We are working with dedicated companies in the financial area to offer the right products which also cater for fleet customers.”

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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.