All-Electric Byton SUV Debuts At 2018 Consumer Electronics Show

Jae C. HongAP Images

At the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Chinese electric car maker Byton unveiled its concept SUV. The new all-electric vehicle, expected to be released in 2019, will come packed with myriad technologies meant to replace a driver’s smartphone.

Starting around $45,000, the Byton SUV will be able to travel about 250 miles before needing to charge its 71 kilowatt-hour battery, according to a Fortune report. The battery can charge to 80 percent capacity in less than 40 minutes. An upgraded, four-wheel drive version capable of traveling 325 miles on a single charge will also be available.

Proclaiming it a “smart intuitive vehicle (SIV),” company co-founder Daniel Kirchert believes the vehicle will create a “new category” in automotive.

“The car is really becoming more of a smart device, allowing the driver and passengers to have their own digital experience, and a seamless kind of experience that doesn’t require you to use your smartphone or other smart devices.”

The Byton SUV will have an extensive display encompassing the entire dashboard, with another smaller touchscreen embedded in the steering wheel. Other technology included will allow for hand gestures and voice commands to control several features of the electric vehicle. Various aspects of a driver’s health, like heart rate and blood pressure, will also be checked by “smart” sensors.

The innovative car maker will also introduce a concept called Byton Life. The company will provide an “open digital cloud” that will link data, devices, and other applications. With the technology, drivers can use and sync third-party services for music, video streaming, and even fitness trackers.

A driver’s unique preferences will also be stored on the cloud. As information is collected, the Byton SUV will use facial recognition to identify the person and change settings to match an assigned Byton ID profile.

The vehicle will be equipped with Level 3 self-driving ability, essentially meaning the car can drive itself under certain conditions as long as a human is available to intervene if needed. A Verge report says Byton will have a Level 4 version capable of complete autonomous driving in two years.

While the Byton headquarters and factory are in China, where the majority of sales are expected, the technology behind the SUV was developed in Santa Clara, California. Hoping for a significant windfall, investors have poured more than $320 million into the company. Another round of capital raising will begin later this year.

Next year, sales of the Byton SUV will begin in China. Consumers in the U.S. and Europe will be able to buy it starting sometime in 2020.