By­ton pro­duc­tion to gear up high-tech cars

China Daily European Weekly - - Business - By FAN FEIFEI fan­[email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

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.

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