Chinese electric vehicle startup Byton has signed an agreement with iPhone maker Hon Hai Precision Industry Company which will allow it to begin commercial vehicle production in the first quarter of 2022.

Byton confirmed Taiwan-based Hon Hai, also known as Foxconn, has agreed to provide it with advanced manufacturing technology and operational expertise and will also make available its industrial resources, including its supply chain, to enable production of Byton's upmarket M-Byte SUV.

Hon Hai is a supplier of components to major global electric vehicle manufacturers including Tesla. Bloomberg earlier this week suggested Hon Hai had also agreed to invest US$200m in the struggling car company.

Byton unveiled a prototype of the M-Byte at the Frankfurt show in 2019 and began preproduction at its plant in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, along with safety tests in the first half of 2020. It was awarded a new energy vehicle production licence by the Chinese government in June 2020.

The company, founded by former BMW and Infiniti executives, was forced to suspend all operations in July 2020 due to financial problems compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which lead to the resignation of co-founder and former CEO Daniel Kirchert in October.

Among the company's existing investors are Chinese state-owned FAW Group and local EV battery maker CATL. 

Hon Hai chairman Young Liu said in a statement "the deal will allow us to contribute to the growth of the EV industry and is a demonstration of our commitment to the transformation of the traditional automotive industry".

Last year, Hon Hai announced a partnership with Fiat Chrysler to develop and make electric vehicles for China.