LAS VEGAS – Two years after its initial concept was shown at CES, Byton showed off its final production version of the M-Byte electric crossover to a North American audience here on Sunday and announced its first major partnerships as an auto manufacturer.
A new player in the electric vehicle space, the Chinese company founded in 2016 has been ambitious with production plans for its first vehicle.
Byton plans to launch the vehicle in China this year and recently tapped veteran engineers from Ford and Renault to prepare for its upcoming production.
The company said in November it received licenses to sell the vehicle in California in a move that Byton said paves the way for North American sales in 2021. It also plans to begin deliveries in Europe in 2021.
The M-Byte incorporates Byton's "Your Platform for Life" user experience, the company's vision of making the vehicle the "central device in your ecosystem of digital devices," CEO Daniel Kirchert said on Sunday.
The company also demonstrated how drivers and passengers can use the 48-inch Byton screen that extends across the vehicle's cockpit – the largest of its type for a production vehicle – for conference calling capabilities, cinema mode and more.
The company's initial major partners include media conglomerate ViacomCBS and Access for an in-vehicle theater experience.
Byton also announced its partnerships with AccuWeather for weather updates, Aiqudo for in-vehicle app voice control, CloudCar for cloud-based infrastructure, Road.Travel for online trip booking and Xperi for digital HD radio. Byton said the partnerships will help the company become the industry's first "smart device on wheels."
"Users no longer see their car as a single-use product," said Andreas Schaaf, Byton's chief customer officer. "Connectivity has already become a key deciding factor in vehicle purchases."
More than 100 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles from global automakers and startups are in the industry pipeline for the next three to five years. In China, Byton's targeted market, demand for EVs has slipped as the government has pulled back subsidies.
In California, the company has a dealer license called Byton Cars California LLC and a distributor license in North America for Byton Americas LLC. The entities will be the foundation of Byton's hybrid retail model in the U.S., the company said in a statement in November. Byton said it will be able to sell and lease directly to customers in California and online to customers in other states.