Written by Graham Cutbill-White
Chinese start-up, Byton has released plans for an exciting new vehicle which they’ve described as “the first real smart car,”.
The company, set up by former executives of Nissan and BMW as well as former employees of Apple unveiled a prototype of the electric sports utility vehicle at an event in Las Vegas.
The SUV boasts a whopping 49inch touchscreen in place of the traditional dashboard and is expected to be released in China in 2019.
Byton, a play on the phrase ‘Bytes on Wheels’ is backed by Chinese investors and is expected to cost around $45,000 when it goes on sale.
Boasting the aforementioned touchscreen dashboard, as well as a smaller tablet-sized screen on the steering wheel, the Byton is aiming to position itself as a “premium smart electric car”*.
The dashboard is bright white during the day but dims to a lower light at night time. It gives drivers a range of information including maps, speed, video clips and even health data.
It’s controlled by a combination of voice, touch, and hand gestures.
There’s also a screen in the back of each of the front seats. These seats can also be turned towards each other, opening the car and allowing those in the back to see the larger main screen.
Describing their vision for the car, Jeff Chung, head of Byton’s Intelligent Car Experience division said:
“What we want to try to do is merge your life outside of the car with your experience inside the car,”
While talking to the BBC about the potential of the car, the team explained that it’s currently fitted with sensors to deliver what they call “level 4” autonomy or in layman’s terms the ability for the car to drive safely while the driver is asleep at the wheel.
This feature is, however, a few years away and currently offers the ability to ‘drive itself’ but the driver must be alert and ready to take the controls at any time.
In terms of performance, Byton claims the vehicle will do 0-60mph in around 5 seconds but this car is not about getting from A-B as quickly as possible, it’s an attempt redefine how and why we use a car.
Despite their innovative plans, Byton does enter an ever-growing and overcrowded electric vehicle market and at around $10,000 more expensive than the more well-known and recognisable Tesla, it does face a battle to elbow its way into the international market.
If the Byton is an example of what’s to come, the future looks exciting for the car industry as a whole and for electric vehicles in particular.