The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas was once a place exclusively populated by tech companies, but in recent years more and more auto manufacturers have chosen to exhibit there.
The new SUV will be manufactured at Byton’s plant in Nanjing, China.
“We’re building a next generation smart device to enrich your experience as a driver, and give you time to enjoy whatever you enjoy doing”, said Henrik Wenders, Byton’s VP of marketing.
The rear-wheel-drive BYTON concept will have a 71 kWh battery with 272 horsepower and a range of 250 miles.
Byton’s massive Shared Experience Display makes even the big screen in a Tesla Model S or X look tiny. A simple voice command or hand gesture is the only thing one will need to communicate.
They are also seeking to take on leaders such as Tesla Inc.by offering newer technologies as the race heats up for batteries with longer driving ranges and as leading markets, including China, consider phasing out automobiles powered by gasoline and diesel.
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.
In fact, while the Byton concept’s exterior might be a fairly sober affair – not helped by its metallic brown paint job, frankly – the interior is altogether more wowing. It is the first vehicle from the Chinese automaker and has been designed both in China and the U.S. and will be produced in the former. You’ll have the choice of a rear-wheel drive model producing 268bhp and 295lb ft of torque, and a dual-motor, all-wheel drive version making 469bhp and 524lb ft of twist. A large screen nearly 50 inches wide sits on the dashboard, complementing a smaller driver tablet behind the steering wheel and two screens in the rear seats.
The model will go into production and sale next year in China, and hit American and European markets a year later.
It will eventually offer full self driving capabilities, Byton said, claiming that after the 2020 software update, drivers will be able to take a nap on the back seat as they are being driven to their destination.
The company aims to combine low-priced Chinese manufacturing with German engineering and design and USA technology. In a demo at the event, Byton showed a clip of a driver using voice controls to search for the company’s yet-to-be-built network of charging stations, while Alexa simultaneously asked about rerouting grocery deliveries based the driver’s current location and traffic patterns. In doing so, we are creating the next-generation smart device: the auto.