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Byton unveils its all-electric SUV starting at $45,000 with range up to 323 miles

After a few month of teasing and confirming that it will launch in the US in 2020, Byton, the international brand of China-based EV startup Future Mobility Corp, unveiled its first electric vehicle, which it refers to as “an electric intelligent SUV.”

As we previously reported, Byton was founded by a bunch of executives from Tesla, BMW, and Nissan, and it has several Chinese investors, including Tencent Holdings, which is now also an important investor in Tesla.

The company is part of a growing trend of Chinese electric vehicle startups launching new EVs in China but who also have international ambitions.

Their first vehicle unveiled this weekend at CES, a small electric SUV, is planned to hit the Chinese market next year before coming to the US and Europe in 2020.

They showed the vehicle for the first time during an event in Las Vegas last night:

They listed the key features in a press release:

  • Shared lounge experience for in-car communication, entertainment and work, with content and connection driven by the BYTON Life cloud platform
  • A single 125 x 25 cm (49 x 9.8 inch) Shared Experience Display center console, along with three additional display screens
  • Unique human-vehicle interaction incorporating voice recognition, touch control, biometric identification and hand gesture control technology
  • Incorporation of Amazon Alexa for intelligent voice control, with additional Amazon collaboration on audio and video content
  • Maximum range of 520 km (323 miles) on a single charge

That range will be enabled by a 95 kwh battery pack a 4-wheel-drive dual motor 350 kW powertrain for a premium, but the base version starting at $45,000 will be powered by a single RWD 200 kW motor and a 71 kwh battery pack for a driving range of 400 km (248.5 miles).

The company claims to be able to charge the battery pack to “80% in just 30 minutes.”

Byton also announced that all its vehicles, a sedan and “multi-purpose vehicle” will follow, will be equipped with level 4 autonomous driving-ready hardware. Level 3 will be available at launch and level 4 software will be released with an update in 2020, according to the company.

Most of the presentation for the launch of the SUV revolved around Byton’s connectivy and user interface features.

Here’s an extensive list from the press release:

  • BYTON Intuitive Access: a different method of unlocking the car. Face recognition cameras recognize the driver or passenger to unlock the door. BYTON also recognizes driver and passenger information to auto-adjust seat angles, entertainment options and other information according to user preferences and usage.
  • User profiles auto-enabled for every BYTON. No matter which BYTON the driver sits in, his or her profile can be downloaded from the cloud to the car, making the customer feel as if every BYTON is his/her own car.
  • BYTON Air Touch for advanced gesture control. This feature allows for display control via easy hand gestures at any position within the car. For example, users can caption a location with a grabbing motion in the air, and then put it into the maps function in the middle of the display to start the navigation.
  • The Driver Tablet allows the driver to control the Shared Experience Display, navigation, seat adjustment and other functions. The sides of the tablet integrate few physical buttons in the car such as the volume control. In collaboration with Amazon, BYTON has also integrated Alexa Voice into its in-car voice control system.
  • Four BYTON Life features on display at CES include my HEALTH, my COMMUNICATION, my ENTERTAINMENT and my ACTIVITIES. Built-in hardware synchronizes with the user’s other devices, enabling BYTON to track the user’s health status, including weight, heart rate, blood pressure; and synchronizes user’s data to give fitness advice.
  • BYTON Concept supports video and telephone conference capability, enabling users to work productively while commuting, or connect with family and friends.
  • Seamless switch from the outside to the inside the car. BYTON Life enables music, video and other content played on one’s smartphone to continue to play in the car displays, from the time when the user has just entered the vehicle.
  • Advanced AI and machine learning capabilities analyze a user’s calendar, locations, hobbies and application data to provide customized advice on what to do next, making BYTON smarter with every interaction.
  • BYTON’s interconnected hardware prepares for 5G communications. The hidden antenna on the roof allows data transfer rates up to 10 Gbit/second which is hundreds of times the normal average bandwidth.
  • Data security built into all features and services. BYTON has established a dedicated independent Security Lab to ensure data security whether connected to the cloud or within the vehicle. BYTON Smart Gateway with machine learning ability is an additional core technology, enabling BYTON to track the security status of the vehicle in real time, detect potential failures and threats and take auto-countermeasures.

Electrek’s Take

Interesting first entry from this somewhat secretive startup that we have been following for a while now.

I’m not sure what to think of all that multitude of high-tech features yet, but when it comes to core electric vehicle specs, I like what I’m hearing – especially for the price.

We are talking about a mid-luxury SUV at $45,000 with a significant battery capacity close to the base version of Tesla’s Model X. The higher-end version with dual motor and a bigger battery pack could theoretically even be competitive with Tesla’s flagship electric SUV.

Otherwise, it sounds like it could be a competitor to Tesla’s upcoming Model Y, which is expected around the same time.

Of course, we haven’t had a lot of luck with EV startups bringing their cool EV concepts to production yet, which means that Byton will have to work against the persisting vaporware-feeling that comes with new companies launching electric vehicles.

If you want my opinion, the caliber of leadership is impressive and it seems one of the most credible financial backings to date for EV startups in China.

I think Byton might be a company to watch in the next few years. What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

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