It isn't just major auto shows from around the world that serve as a platform for carmakers to showcase their latest design and concepts anymore. Now, the focus is shifting a lot towards tech with the rise of autonomous technology and features that truly render a car 'smart'. Along with new products and concepts from established automakers, the CES 2018's debut lineup this year includes first looks at startups and unknowns like Byton. With global headquarters in Nanjing, China, a tech-focused HQ in Silicon Valley and a design centre in Munich, Byton plans to develop vehicles for major markets around the world. The company celebrated its coming out party in September last year and now its first-ever concept car has been unveiled at CES 2018. The name Byton refers to the phrase Bytes on Wheels.
The Byton concept has a typical SUV profile, but with unique front and rear LED lighting. The SUV that may appear to be regular at its first glance is anything but. This is, as Byton calls it, an SIV - Smart Intuitive Vehicle. To begin with, there are no door handles. The driver (or more like the first passenger since s/he won't be driving) gain entry via facial recognition cameras.
There is a steering wheel inside which means the first passenger can opt for manual driving, however, we reckon it will be difficult to focus with the giant flashing screen up front. But the cabin does appear designed more for a full autonomy vehicle.
The dashboard "shared experience display" looks well-suited to sitting back and watching like a living room HD TV, and Byton promises a comprehensive cloud platform binding together driver and passenger devices, apps, profiles, etc. Byton wants its car to be more than just a mode of transport and place also for work, play or relaxation (perhaps also driving at times).
Byton also wants to provide uninterrupted connectivity with speeds up to 1,000 Mbps to drive the digital bits, including voice and hand gesture control for human-machine interface.
An all-electric, Byton's range on the base model is 400 km, and Byton says its battery can charge 240 km worth of range in just 20 minutes, and 80 percent of the battery’s total charge in 30 minutes. Integrated with a customised version of Amazon’s Alexa service, the car can also monitor your heart rate and blood pressure to better inform you about your health.
The company intends to bring its first vehicle to market in China by 2019, with US and European launches following in 2020. The platform will also be used for a sedan and an MPV.