8 Jan 18

Chinese startup reveals concept EV at CES

On Sunday, Chinese EV startup Byton revealed its concept car at CES 2018 in Las Vegas. Launching a new vehicle at a consumer electronics show would have seemed out of place just a few years ago. Not any longer. 

“(This car) is actually a high-tech digital space”, Carsten Breitfeld, CEO of the Nanjing-based company, was quoted by Automotive News. 

Cloud connectivity
For example: facial recognition sensors replace door handles, side-view cameras replace mirrors, antennas are designed and placed to maximise cloud connectivity, and most prominently of all: the car boasts a 49-inch (125-cm) screen that can be operated via touch, voice or gesture by the driver or front-seat passenger. There's an additional 8-inch (20-cm) touchscreen in the steering wheel. 

The car will also connect to the passengers' smartphones and smartwatches for personalised information and entertainment options – pre-positioning the vehicle for shared mobility applications. The manufacturer is also working with Amazon to integrate its virtual assistant Alexa into the vehicle. 

Rotating seats
Byton's four-seater concept car will be equipped from the start with Level-3 autonomous driving capability (i.e. self-drive in certain conditions, with human supervision). Via partnerships, the company aims for Level-4 autonomy (self-drive in certain conditions, without human supervision) some time next decade. Certain features have already been designed with a high degree of autonomy in mind. For example, the front seats that can rotate 12 degrees inward. 

Byton has recently opened an office in Silicon Valley. It plans to sell its first vehicle model – which it says will contain 85% of the same design and parts as the CES concept car – in China next year, and in the U.S. soon after. 

Reservations for the car have already started, at a price tag of about $45,000 (€37,500). An entry-level model will have a range of 250 miles (400 km), a high-end one will be able to go 325 miles (520 km) without recharging. 

Authored by: Frank Jacobs