Byton unveils its first EV with a focus on in-car 'experience'

Byton unveils its first EV with a focus on in-car 'experience'
From Engadget - January 7, 2018

Byton showed off the near-production version of its upcoming electric SUV at CES. According to the company, the "Concept" (which will start at 300,000 in China or approximately $45,000) on stage at the Mandalay Bay is 85-percent done and will launch in China in 2019 and the United States and Europe in 2020.

The slick looking (and it does look slick with no door handles or mirrors) car rolled onto the stage amid flashing lights and loud music. The vehicle and company may be new, but introducing cars still requires an elaborate lighting system and techno beat. In addition to slightly futuristic-looking head and tail lights, there's a thin spiderweb of illumination on the front and rear of the SUV that can be used to convey the car's status to pedestrians. There are facial recognition cameras in the B-pillars (the pillar between the front and rear side windows) that are used to unlock the car. Those missing mirrors have been replaced by cameras (if allowed by regulators) that are merged with rear-view camera to create a panoramic view of the world behind the car on the dash.

The company is going for futuristic without being polarizing. It wants a vehicle everyone likes to look at that's also sleeker than other SUVs on the market.

But it's not the outside that really counts with Byton (even though I am actually a fan of the design). The interior and systems it houses are what the automaker is hoping will make its vehicles stand out from the rest of the automotive world. It's about changing the experience of driving. Byton CEO Dr. Carsten Breitfeld told Engadget "if you want to create something new then you have to change the paradigm."

That change includes a gigantic 40-inch Shared Experience Display that runs the width of the dash, and front seats that swivel towards the center by 12 degrees, so passengers in the back have a clearer view of said screen. Optional rear displays will also be available at launch.

Controlling the infotainment system, climate control, and media are handled by gestures (thanks to a camera installed in the dash), the driver's voice, and a touchscreen tablet installed in the steering wheel. It's basically an Android tablet that can be used as such when the car's doing all the driving.

The vehicle also has facial-recognition sensors in the dash for driver profiles. But it's more than just setting up your seat the way you like it and tuning to your favorite station, it's part of Byton's mobility plan . Your facial data and vehicle info (Byton ID) is sent to the cloud (if you want) and when you enter another Byton vehicle, the car conforms to your preferences. So if these cars end up in a local shared fleet or as part of a nationwide rental company, the Bryton automobile you sit in will adjust to your liking. That, like the rest of the features, sounds great. But it's not all that far-fetched.

Audi, BMW and other automakers are investigating how to keep drivers and passengers entertained when their cars are driving themselves. What Byton is hopes is that its lack of car-building history means they can build something from scratch that appeals to automotive and consumer electronics folks.


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