EV startup Byton has unveiled a concept electric SUV with autonomous technologies, a lounge-like interior, and face recognition cameras at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). A production version is expected to reach China by the end of 2019, followed by Europe and the U.S. in 2020.
It’s a bold claim, but Byton President Daniel Kirchert says the vehicle will be the “first-ever affordable premium EV that fulfills the requirements as the first car in every household.” The midsize SUV will start at around $45,000.
Up front, the Byton concept features lights that can change depending on different driving scenarios and the messages it wants to communicate to others on the road. Face recognition cameras on the B-pillars can unlock the doors for drivers or passengers. Instead of traditional side mirrors, the vehicle has discreet side-view cameras to help drivers see their outside surroundings.
Step in the cabin, and the concept reveals a living area with a wooden floor, leather upholstery, and rotating seats. A large screen almost 50 inches wide sits on the dashboard, complementing a smaller driver tablet behind the steering wheel and two screens in the rear seats. To control functions like navigation, users can use hand gestures from any position in the car.
The Byton concept is compatible with up-and-coming 5G communications technology. It has also incorporated Amazon Alexa in its voice control system.
When it goes into production, the SUV will feature Level 3 autonomous capabilities, in which it’s expected the human driver will intervene if needed. By 2020, Byton will issue an over-the-air update so its vehicles can reach Level 4, meaning the cars can drive on their own under specific conditions, as defined by the SAE.
Two versions will be offered. A rear-wheel-drive model will pack a 71-kilowatt-hour battery pack that can help the vehicle travel 248.5 miles. This model features a single motor delivering 295 lb-ft of torque. The four-wheel-drive version boasts a 95-kWh battery and a driving range of up to 323 miles. It has a dual-motor setup good for 523 lb-ft. Recharging to 80 percent takes just 30 minutes in fast charge mode, Byton claims.
Byton will manufacture the new SUV in Nanjing, China. From 2021, Byton will start rolling out other vehicles. A sedan and a multi-purpose vehicle will sit on the same platform as the SUV.