/Forget Driving. You’ll Wish You Could Watch TV in This Car
Forget Driving. You’ll Wish You Could Watch TV in This Car

Forget Driving. You’ll Wish You Could Watch TV in This Car


Every concept car comes with a caveat: As the design moves to production, certain features will be dropped to reduce cost, simplify manufacturing, or kowtow to regulations. Ideas like camera-based side view “mirrors”, overly complex door handles, and huge wheels make concepts look fancy and futuristic, but rarely make it all the way to the production line. So when Byton showed its M-Byte concept in early 2018, you might have thought the 4-foot-wide interior screen was just a designer’s nod to consumer love for in-car tech.
And you’d have been wrong. The Chinese electric car startup unveiled the $45,000 production version of the baby SUV at the Frankfurt Motor Show on Tuesday, and the curved screen, which runs nearly the width of the dash, is honking huge.

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Byton, after all, is part of a crop of auto industry startups emerging in an age where notions of performance and how we spend time in our vehicles are changing. Electric powertrains are a must. So are autonomous capabilities (though maybe not right away). That’s why Byton has partnered with Aurora, the self-driving developer led by industry pioneer Chris Urmson, to let its future cars drive themselves. The results of that work are still a ways off, but the big screen is designed with a robot-driven future in mind: It’s not like you’ll be watching the road once you no longer have to.
The massive interior screen runs nearly the width of the dash, designed for the coming age of autonomous driving.

 

Photograph: Byton

Put aside the pixels, though, and the M-Byte’s specs are totally reasonable. The base model draws 270 horsepower from a 72-kWh battery pack, and is rated at 224 miles of range on Europe’s new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure. (The WLTP is more rigorous than current European range test, but early results show it’s still more generous than the EPA test in the US.) Shell out for the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive version, and you get a 92-kWh pack good for 402 horsepower and 270 miles.
The $45,000 base price makes the M-Byte about half the price of competing premium electric SUVs like the Audi E-tron and Jaguar I-Pace. Elon Musk has said Tesla’s Model Y will start at $39,000, though the first version due to hit the market will start at $60,000.
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