Meet the New Kid on the EV Block: The Byton M-Byte

The Chinese made M-Byte is set for full production by the end of 2019.
Christopher McFadden
The photo credit line may appear like thisByton

In just under 20 months since it made its CES debut, the Byton M-Byte is almost ready for sale. This incredible achievement is impressive enough, but the M-Byte has some killer features that might just make it a hit on the EV market.

What is the Byton M-Byte?

The M-Byte is the debut EV for a Chinese EV startup called Byton. Byton first announced their new EV 20 months ago at the 2018 CES.

But, incredibly, the car's final production version SUV was debuted at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show on Tuesday this week. They also announced that the premium SUV with its dashboard-spanning screen would go into production at their newly completed automotive factory in Nanjing, China by the end of the year.

byton m-byte external
Source: Byton

According to Byton, the entry-level M-Byte should be able to churn out about 360 km per charge. Prices will start at around $45,000 when it finally goes on sale in China in 2020. 

They plan to begin exporting it to the U.S. and Europe by 2021 at the earliest. 

What is M-Byte's USP?

One of the main features of the M-Byte is its 48-inch (122cm) dashboard spanning screen. Not only that, this dashboard actually rises up from the interior like a sort of ridge between the car's front pillars.

It will also have an 8-inch (20 cm) touchscreen in the center of the steering wheel. This is a relief to many who loved the M-Byte at the 2018 CES.

There were concerns that were just daring concepts that wouldn't make it to production. The company appears to have made good on their promises and even seem determined to add another touchscreen to the SUV for this year's CES.

Co-founder and CEO Daniel Kirchert told The Verge that "all these screens remain in the production version."

"In fact, Kirchert says, the only main feature Byton touted in the concept that won’t make it to production was the idea of using facial recognition to identify whoever is approaching the car," notes the Verge.

byton m-byte dashboard
Source: Byton

But that's not all. The M-Byte will have a comparable range to some other market leaders. 

Further to the entry-level model performance on a 72 kWh battery detailed above, their proposed more expensive all-wheel model should give owners about a 435 km range off its 95 kWh battery pack.

Of course, the M-Byte will never match the performance of the Tesla Model X or Porsche Taycan. But it was never designed to do so. 

It was intended from the start to be a solid, reliable EV for a reasonable price.

How did they manage to develop it so quickly?

First off, Byton's founders, Daniel Kirchert and Carsten Breitfeld, used to work for BMW in a previous life. The experience they gained there helped them get a headstart with their ambitions for the M-Byte. 

However, shortly after the M-Byte's debut at CES 2018, Breitfield left Byton to run another Chinese startup. Undaunted, Kirchert managed to steady the ship and deliver on the promises made back in 2018.

But no startup can survive without funding. Where is it coming from?

As it happens, Byton is mainly funded by the Chinese state-owned First Automobile Works (FAW) who were the very first large automaker in China. 

"What started as cooperation — where FAW agreed to help Byton establish its supply chain and solve other logistic headaches — has bloomed into a more involved partnership, one that Kirchert says will be explained in greater detail in the months to come. FAW is also interested in the platform Byton has developed (which Byton already plans to use to power a second vehicle, a sedan known as the K-Byte)," states The Verge.


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