Byton, a new China-based company founded by automotive veterans of BMW and Infiniti, unveiled an all-electric SUV loaded with technology that aims to supersize the experience and functionality of a smartphone. The Byton will cost $45,000 and up and will be coming to the U.S. and Europe in 2020.
It’s electric, of course, can drive itself, connects to the internet through 5G, uses Amazon Alexa as a virtual assistant. The car also features facial recognition access, real-time monitoring of health vital signs, hand-gesture control and cloud-based data storage. The Byton will be able to drive itself in situations such as traffic jams and be able to handle most driving conditions from 2020.
In a press release, Byton says its 2019 production units (which will debut in China before they arrive in the U.S. and Europe) will feature Level 3-caliber Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAC) technology, placing it in the middle of the ADAC spectrum and meaning that the driver has to be ready to take control in case of an emergency.
The car will be technically equipped for Level 4 self-driving, which means it can handle all driving tasks. That capability will require a change in the law to be allowed on public roads.
Byton says its new car was designed from the ground up to be electric. That means no spaces for internal combustion engine components. At CES, Byton said the car will come in two flavors, one with a 71 kilowatt-hour battery pack good for 250 miles, and a second with a 95 kilowatt-hour battery pack that can go 325 miles.
Inside, the Byton is the definition of luxury, with a wooden floor, leather seats. The concept’s interior contains four seats, and front seats that rotate 12 degrees inwards for a more intimate shared space between passengers. Its individually-adjustable rear seats make it so even the loudest backseat driver gets a comfy experience.
It’s now up to Byton to prove that they can bring this car to production, it is natural to be skeptical of these Chinese-backed EV startups and their ambitious technology plans. We’ll see!