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For the first time, startup car maker Byton took to the stage at CES. They unveiled an all-electric (EV) level 3 autonomous SUV that will ready by the end of year 2019.
Its starting price will be $45,000 USD. The EV promises to go 325 miles on a single charge. This is the first of three vehicles they hope to make available, with the other 2 vehicles expected to be in market by 2020. Byton is backed by Chinese investors with global headquarters and a R&D centre in Nanjing, China.
Founded by former BMW and Infiniti executives Dr. Carsten Breitfeld and Dr. Daniel Kirchert, shown driving the new car on stage, the two EV enthusiasts prefer to call the car an SIV and not SUV. SIV stands for Smart Intuitive Vehicle.
Their vision is to have mobility fueled by intelligence with a car that operates more like your smartphone than a simple vehicle that gets you from point A to B. The car integrates advanced digital technologies to extend your digital life resulting in an experience that is both smart and productive.
The inside of the vehicle is more like a lounge or your living room. All the seats are individually adjustable with the front seats able to rotate inward to stimulate conversation. There are side pods everywhere to store your tablets or other devices. The dashboard boasts a 49-inch Shared Experience Display which shows navigation data, music selections and even your health data.
The steering features the first touchscreen integrated wheel offering easy access to vehicle controls without taking your eyes off the road. Facial recognition of the person behind the wheel automatically configures seats, displays and other options selected in the driver’s preset preferences. Byton engineers are designing the operating paradigm of the vehicle to be similar to that of your iPhone.
The Byton SIV even has Amazon Alexa integration. They showed a video where two passengers asked Alexa to change a scheduled Amazon grocery delivery to another time to ensure they would be home based on current traffic conditions.
This is a very cool concept but are Canadians ready for a car that works like a smartphone?
Kanetix.ca conducted a study recently to determine willingness to use autonomous vehicles in addition to allowing other parties to have access to health data along with other driving metrics that reflect a driver’s habits.
Depending on the type of data, 46-54 per cent of Canadians were willing to share it if it meant they would benefit from an insurance discount. By the time the Byton hits production, surely more Canadians would be willing to adopt the technology.
Byton may have a working prototype here at CES as they are offering test drives later in the show. They are definitely going big in a competitive market of EV’s and given they are backed by manufacturing skills in China, the co-founder’s dreams may become reality.
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