Byton concept set to challenge Tesla but with China debut

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Byton, the much-touted electric concept SUV and sedan with Chinese financing and projected as a challenger to Tesla, is getting closer to its production launch.

Company representatives showcased the M-Byte crossover and K-Byte sedan and spoke about the company’s plan at AutoMobility LA, the precursor days of the LA Auto Show, Nov. 30-Dec. 9. The M-Byte will be on display throughout the show.

The Byton has a 49-inch touchscreen interface.
The Byton has a 49-inch touchscreen interface. All images © James Raia/2018

If projections materialize, the vehicle will be available in China at the end of 2019 and six months later will be available in the U.S. market.

With an advertised base price of $45,000, the Byton is marketed for drivers and passengers to operate the vehicle with Amazon Alexa voice commands or hand gestures.

The Byton is expected to debut in China in late 2019 as a challenger to Tesla.
The Byton is expected to debut in China in late 2019 as a challenger to Tesla.

The command operation is a touchscreen that extends the entire length of the dash. It’s 49 inches long and 10 inches high. The seats in the spacious SUV swivel so passengers can face each other.

“The most important this is you will get the 49-inch screen with the base price of the vehicle,” said Florian Bauer, Byton’s director of product management. “Of course we have a price ladder like everyone else. “What’s important is that you can get a car that you would want for $45,000.

The Byton concept has a plush interior with rear seats that swivel.
The Byton concept has a plush interior with rear seats that swivel.

“Of course, we would like to sell you a more expensive car like everyone else. But you don’t need it to enjoy it to its fullest.”

In addition to the screen, a unique user interface, facial recognition and personal data inclusion in included in the base price.

With U.S. headquarters in Santa Clara, Byton includes Level 3 driving technology. Its definition means a vehicle can drive itself but requires human involvement when necessary.

But the Byton also has a steering wheel before the driverless technology becomes legal.

“We have huge respect for what Tesla did to create a market, especially here in the U.S.,” said Bauer. “But now the market has reached the size that allows for more than one player. We are ready.”

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