Byton and Karma Automotive among companies that received COVID-related PPP loans

EV firms Byton, Karma Automotive and Nio all received between $5 and $10 million in

EV firms Byton, Karma Automotive and Nio all received between $5 and $10 million in aid after joining the US PPP program.

In an attempt to save small businesses from falling victim to the economical side effects of the coronavirus recession, an economic downturn predicted to be the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the US Small Business Association launched the Paycheck Protection Program which accepted applications until July 6. 

Also on July 6, the US Treasury released a list of companies which benefited from the program by receiving loans of $150,000 or more; the EV start-ups Byton, Nio, and Karma Automotive all got between $5 million and $10 million to keep their head above water.

Unfortunately for these companies, even millions of dollars couldn’t keep them in the clear. Last week, Byton announced that operations will be suspended for at least six months due to the outbreak; Karma Automotive has been considering filing for bankruptcy while also furloughing and laying off employees; and while NIO’s future looks bright, it has been no stranger to halted operations over the past few months.

While these start-ups aren’t as massive as EV companies like Tesla or Rivian, their visionary concept vehicles and production models look towards the future of the automotive industry. The M-Byte SUV shook the audience of last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show when the model’s 48-inch curved display on the dash was revealed, complemented by smaller screens on the steering wheel, gear shift and on the rear of the front seats for back-seat entertainment.

Likewise, Karma’s concepts have donned tech that will doubtlessly make it into the EVs of the future, like an AI-powered “humanized communication system with touch, voice, eye, and graphical interfaces.” Nio’s expertise, on the other hand, focuses on EV performance. The startup has created an electric hypercar which can keep up with some of the world’s fastest vehicles.

Only time will tell if these startups will be able to survive the duration of the pandemic outbreak. Without such companies introducing innovative technologies with a primary focus on battery-powered models, the electric revolution will be slowed and public interest in electric vehicles could stall in the midst of the ongoing climate crisis.