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Mao’s iconic sedan revived through electric-vehicle technology partnership

Byton founder Daniel Kirchert says China FAW Group will invest in their EV technology.

China’s carmaker FAW Group Corp., developer of the Red Flag limousine for Chairman Mao Zedong, announced its commitment to recover the sixty-year-old brand in partnership with a local electric-car company led by former BMW AG managers.

FAW Group will be further announcing, this Friday, an investment in Nanjing-based Byton, the startup formerly known as Future Mobility Corp., according to a statement by Byton founder Daniel Kirchert. The founder also explained the companies are discussing plans to cooperate in product development, manufacturing, sales, and supply-chain management.

The carmaker launched a new round of efforts to recover the brand after Xu Liuping took over as chairman of the company in 2017. Kirchert also reported Xu’s intentions to increase sales of the Red Flag brand one-hundred times by 2025 to approximately three-hundred thousand units annually.

Byton unveiled a $45,000 electric SUV in January at the CES in Las Vegas and has been seeking a production permit from the Chinese government. The National Development and Reform Commission, which oversees new investments in the auto sector, ceased the activities of a licensing program in 2017 to rein in an excessive capacity expansion. The collaboration would support Byton’s initiatives towards meeting its own targets of starting automobile production in 2018.

Additionally, Kirchert reveals that Byton is appointing Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. for battery supply, and is working with Baidu Inc. on areas such as voice recognition and mapping.

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