Just two years ago at CES, Byton revealed the M-Byte, a sleek, fully electric SUV that drew a whole lot of attention at the show especially for two reasons: its jaw-dropping 48-inch Shared Experience Display that spanned the full width of the dash, and its projected $45k starting price.
To the first point, Byton is bringing that screen to production, in all M-Bytes. It now has a name, the Byton Stage, and the automaker hopeful is using CES 2020 as a launchpad for that. Sunday Byton announced a Developers Program aimed at driving app development and outlined the first wave of partnerships that will help make that screen—the first installation for such hardware from China’s BOE Technology Group—information-packed and useful.
With the introduction of the production-bound M-Byte prototype at last year’s Frankfurt Auto Show, it became clear that the scale of the ambitious, comprehensive Byton Life digital cloud platform that connects various user apps and habits with AI has become smaller since the M-Byte concept’s original debut. Instead, Byton is turning to Aiqudo to assure what should be much-appreciated by most users: single-point, natural-voice control across a range of mobile apps.
With a screen like that, and multiple modems and the bandwidth to support it, entertainment and viewing are going to be important ability sets—something that new partnerships with ViacomCBS and ACCESS will be providing. For hyper-local weather information, AccuWeather data will be connected in, while Road.Travel will help with trip booking and CloudCar will help provide point-of-interest searches on various apps.
Viacom ACCESS Cinema Mode, in Byton M-Byte
On the audio entertainment front, Byton also announced that it will get Digital HD radio via Xperi, plus DTS Connected Radio service that will automatically switch listeners from radio to the station’s stream when it’s out of range.
Byton has been sticking to the $45,000 entry price, although that will be for rear-motor versions with the smaller 72-kwh battery; premium models will come with a 402-hp dual-motor setup providing an anticipated WLTP rating of 270 miles—depending on test cycles, likely corresponding to a U.S. EPA range of less than 240 miles.
It aims to begin deliveries in Europe and North America by early 2021, after first deliveries in China by mid-year 2020. In November it formed an entity for North American distribution, Byton Americas LLC, as well as a charging partnership with Electrify America. Potentially to meet the price point amid brewing U.S.-China trade strife, some of those vehicles might come from South Korea rather than Byton’s centerpiece Nanjing factory.