Byton says the M-Byte will go on sale in the U.S. in 2020.
Chinese electric car startup Byton wants to bring a massive screen to your driveway by fall 2020. Yes, of course you’ll get a car in that deal as well, but that insanely large screen really is the headline of the M-Byte electric crossover. At CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Dr. Carsten Breitfield — Byton’s CEO and co-founder — confirmed this car will go into large-scale production, screen and all, later this year. The company claims to have built 100 examples already, and plans to sell the M-Byte in China by the end of this year. European and U.S.-market sales will follow in Q3 2020.
If Byton can produce cars on that schedule, we’ll eventually see the M-Byte in two versions. The base model is a rear-wheel drive version with a 71-kWh battery pack, capable of driving 250 miles between charges. A larger, 95-kWh model is all-wheel drive, and comes with a Byton-quoted 325-mile range. The company also claims its EV crossover can charge to 80 percent in around 30 minutes.
The M-Byte features over-the-air updates and Level 3 autonomous capabilty. Level 3 cars can take full control of the vehicle in certain conditions, like long freeway journeys. The driver would still need to be on alert and take over if there’s trouble. The M-Byte also wouldn’t take full control in trickier situations, like exiting the freeway or taking on complex city driving. Tesla’s Autopilot, Nissan’s ProPilot Assist and GM’s Super Cruise are considered Level 2 autonomous systems.
How about that screen?
But let’s get back to the headline, here. Battery sizes and range figures are great, but the key number with the M-Byte is 48. That’s the width, in inches, of the so-called “Shared Experience Display.” There’s a bezel around the outer edges of the screen, but other than that it’s a continuous display. It’s your instrument cluster and your infotainment display. It shows you everything you want and need, all at once. Think about the Tesla’s screen, but in more of a widescreen format. And massive, need I repeat that fact.
Weirdly, despite it’s size, it’s not the only screen in the car. There’s also a 7.0-inch display in the center of the steering wheel. You use that screen to control the massive screen near the front of the car. But wait, that’s still not all. The passenger can control their side of the screen with an 8.0-inch touchscreen on the center console. The infotainment system will support voice commands via Amazon Alexa, facial recognition, and hand gestures, as well as some hard buttons.
Don’t worry, you also get some traditional stalks to control the turn signals and wipers, but that’s about the extent of traditional features you get.
That looks distracting…
We spend most of our days looking at some sort of screen. Whether it’s your smartphone, a computer, or indeed an infotainment screen. This is probably one of the more radical examples, and you can’t help but wonder how distracting it might be for drivers. Breitfield notes that he currently owns a Tesla and finds that having to glance over to the right takes his eyes away from the direction of travel, Autoblog reports.
Here, at least the screen is in your line of sight. I can’t help but wonder, though, how that screen impacts forward visibility. It still sticks up from the dash, and it may be tough for a shorter person to see over the screen. On another token, a very tall person may struggle to see the information on the bottom of that huge screen.
Ergonomic issues with the screen notwithstanding, Byton is forging ahead with production plans for the M-Byte. If it does make it to our shores next year, Breitfield notes it will start around $45,000. We’ll see how it develops beyond its current display at CES.
Stay tuned to TFLcar.com for more updates!