Following a reveal at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, Chinese electric car startup Byton is showing it’s full-speed ahead for its debut model, the M-Byte crossover SUV.
The company announced on Tuesday that it’s begun testing prototype vehicles in the real world in Nanjing, China.
Company co-founders Carsten Breitfeld and Daniel Kirchert said the prototype stage shows the company is well on its way to full-scale production in China. Prototypes are currently being tested on public roads and on private test tracks, the company said.
Byton promises a $ 45,000 starting price for the electric SUV, which will house a rear-wheel-drive layout and a 71-kilowatt-hour battery pack. The 71-kwh pack will provide an estimated range of 249 miles and supply power to an electric drive system delivering 250 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.
Byton concept, 2018 Consumer Electronics Show
Although the company hasn’t provided expanded pricing, an all-wheel-drive M-Byte will also launch with a 95-kwh battery pack. The larger battery should produce a 323-mile estimated range and bump performance up substantially. Byton says 470 hp and 524 lb-ft of torque will be on tap with the larger battery model.
At CES, Byton made a splash with its futuristic cockpit design. Notably, a 49-inch-long digital screen wraps the dashboard and serves as the driver and passenger’s main form of interaction. Also onboard is Amazon Alexa and its smarts, artificial intelligence to understand the driver over time and learn his or her preferences, and facial recognition to scrap the need for a physical key. Additionally, Byton claims the M-Byte will launch with Level 3 self-driving capability, but Level 4 capability will arrive in 2020. The Chinese automaker has partnered with Aurora to develop the technology.
While the M-Byte undergoes rigorous testing in its first public tests, the company is also gearing up for winter and cold-weather testing later this year at undisclosed locations. Following its Chinese launch in fall 2019, Byton plans to launch the SUV in the United States and Europe in 2020.
A K-Byte sedan is expected for 2021 before a larger seven-seat crossover SUV joins the portfolio in 2022.