Here’s The Latest EV Startup Trying To Take Down Tesla

It’s not often you get to see the birth of the new car brand, but with Tesla’s recent success (and the backing of deep-pocketed investors in China), newly formed Future Mobility Corp. is giving things a go with its new electric car brand Byton.

Co-founded by former BMW and Nissan execs, Byton picked CES 2018 to unveil its wildly ambitious EV concept, the first of three vehicles the company is hoping to launch by 2022. Byton’s plan is to start with a mid-size SUV slated to arrive in Q4 2019, before adding a sedan, and a seven-seater multi-purpose vehicle shortly after. However, until now, the most we’ve seen of Byton’s vehicles have been shadowy press photos. So without further ado, here’s Byton’s concept EV at CES 2018.

Looking like a cross between the new Land Rover Velar and Faraday Future’s FF91, the feature list for Byton’s concept reads like a buzzword soup from the latest EV trends. It’s got side mounted cameras instead of your typical mirrors, gesture recognition for controlling media and the infotainment system, level 3 autonomous driving (with the company planning on upgrading to level 4 by sometime in 2020), and of course an built-in app ecosystem so you can monitor and control the car from your phone.

The car even deeply integrated voice assistant tech by way of Amazon’s Alexa, which looks to have gotten a serious upgrade from the standard set of functions you might find in an Echo. In a demo at the event, Byton showed a clip of a driver using voice controls to search for the company’s yet-to-be-built network of charging stations, while Alexa simultaneously asked about rerouting grocery deliveries based the driver’s current location and traffic patterns.

However, even among this bird’s nest of me-too tech, there are a few notable features Byton pushed at its CES press event that could separate its concept from the Tesla. The first is an absolutely massive four-foot screen that runs across the entire dashboard, something Byton is calling an SED, or shared experience display. It’s here you’ll be able to make video calls using the car’s substantial wireless internet connectivity, which Byton is claims can handles speeds up to 100 gigabits per second. Byton is also says its car will the first to feature a touchscreen embedded inside the steering wheel.

Byton’s massive Shared Experience Display makes even the big screen in a Tesla Model S or X look tiny.

All this is stuff is there to support Byton’s focus on delivering a “digital lounge” experience in the car, which is topped off by front seats that can rotate all the way around to face the rear passengers. The car will even sport a built-in facial recognition system that allows the car to automatically adjust the settings to suit every occupant, not just the driver.

Unfortunately, details remain scarce as to what kind of tech and engines are powering Byton’s concept. However, the company his already marking its territory by proclaiming it will sell a base model starting at $US45,000 with a range of 402km, along with a more expensive model capable of 523km on a single charge.

With a flashy press conference and some impressive looking demos, Byton is clearly talking a big game. However, based on Tesla’s recently difficulty getting its Model 3 production numbers up to speed, and the continued issues surrounding Faraday Future, it’s hard to be anything but sceptical about Byton’s prospects — especially with a timeline that has cars being sold by the end 2019 out of a factory that hasn’t been built yet. But who knows, with established industry veterans and the world’s fastest growing car market propelling it forward, maybe Byton’s plan is crazy enough to work.

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