Byton production to gear up high-tech cars
Electric car startup Byton is pressing ahead with the mass production of its first intelligent electric vehicle in China, as the nation has become the company’s biggest and most important market.
China is the world’s largest intelligent electric vehicle market. Chinese consumers have a strong demand for such vehicles and are generally open to innovation, unlike Europe or the United States, Carsten Breitfeld, CEO and co-founder of Byton, says in an interview with China Daily.
The company’s business is not so much about electric cars, as the technologies such as connectivity, artificial intelligence and autonomous driving give the company a chance to make the car smarter, Breitfeld said.
Byton’s first model, the M-Byte Concept, is a premium, smart and midsized electric SUV that is expected to hit the market by the end of 2019.
“This revolution will not only change the products, but also the business model. In the future, the revenue will not only come from selling vehicles but dealing with digital data and services. You use your car as a platform to create a sales channel for your customers,” Breitfeld says.
He adds that the company will not develop a self-driving system by itself but will work with some strong partners, such as Chinese tech giant Baidu Inc. As an intelligent electric vehicle manufacturer, it will be responsible for the fusion and integration of various intelligent systems, he says.
“Autonomous driving will be the core technology of mobility in the future,” Breitfeld said, predicting that the new technology will reduce the number of traffic accidents dramatically, as well as traffic congestion. But it will still take some time to bring such technology into operation, he says.
He says the car is going to be a smart terminal or platform, through which content and digital services can be delivered to customers.
The business model requires a different culture and pattern of thought, which is built on the electronic consumer products of internet companies. More and more car companies are working to create this way of thinking, which is a good opportunity for emerging companies, Breitfeld says.
According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, China produced 770,000 electric vehicles in 2017. The association says it expects sales of such cars in China to exceed 1 million this year.
In June, Byton completed a round of financing that it used to accelerate its research and development on China’s first vehicle to feature an allscreen dashboard.
Byton is headquartered in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, which is also home to its intelligent manufacturing base and one of several major R&D centers around the world.
Its European R&D center is in Germany, and is responsible for designing prototypes and concept models. The company’s North American headquarters in Silicon Valley is focused on developing technologies for applications across the intelligent car user experience, as well as autonomous driving.
The company’s second concept vehicle, the K-Byte luxury electric sedan with autonomous driving capacities, was premiered in Shanghai on June 12, one day before the opening of CES Asia 2018.