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Auto Show:  Ces 2018

Byton Concept Car: Consumer Electronics Show

author photo by Colin Ryan January 2018

What Is It?

The Byton concept car is the first fruit of a new venture. It's an electric vehicle (EV) and, unsurprisingly, it takes the form of a crossover. Byton says it wants to be "the company bringing into the market the first real smart car." By that, it means a car where bytes are more important — and a better measure of desirability — than horsepower. Indeed, the Byton name is short for "bytes on wheels." As cars become more and more computerized, the Byton concept is a logical progression.

Stretching between the A-pillars is a dashboard that is one huge touchscreen, prompting Byton to refer to the cabin as the "digital lounge." But touch is just one way of operating it. Gestures and voice commands are other ways. The car has cameras to recognize its occupants and will unlock the doors, activate seat adjustments, deliver music choices and provide other personal touches.

Naturally, there are plans for an autonomous element to kick in when that technology is ready for prime time. At the moment, it's capable of Level 3 autonomy, meaning it will handle the driving in specific conditions as long as the driver is aware, monitoring the controls and ready to take over immediately if necessary.

Going back to horsepower, a single-motor version is expected to have 268 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque; a dual-motor/all-wheel-drive version is said to generate 469 hp and 523 lb-ft of torque. An entry-level model has an estimated range of 250 miles, while the top trim could cover up to 325 miles.

Will They Ever Sell It?

Yes. Byton is taking orders now. The starting price is $45,000. Deliveries should start in 2019.

One main issue at the moment is charging. Tesla might make its supercharger network available to cars from a rival company for the greater good, but there's no such guarantee right now.

Also, that smaller screen in the center of the steering wheel would surely stop an airbag from working, as well as present an invitation for driver distraction. So that may not make the production version.

Why It's Important

Where Byton has the edge over some other automotive startups that tried and stumbled (like Coda and Faraday Future) is the combination of know-how and financial backing. The money comes from various sources, including China, where the car will be built. But Byton has expertise from all over the world, including a former employee at BMW who oversaw the i8 plug-in hybrid supercar, and another who used to work at Apple. The company says it has the ability to produce cars in big numbers, which is a frequent criticism of Tesla. Some people who put their deposits down on a Model 3 as long ago as March 2016 still haven't received their cars as of January 2018.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Byton Concept Car: Consumer Electronics Show - Autotrader