Byton has produced the first 10 of its EV SUV prototypes and by years end several of those will be sent to the United States for testing. The China-based automaker founded by former BMW and Infiniti executives is looking to produce another 100 prototypes of its all-electric SUV, which Byton calls the M Byte by the end of 2018. The prototypes that will arrive in America will be acquired by autonomous vehicle tech startup, Aurora.
Aurora will be testing Level 4 autonomous driving systems on the Byton prototypes. Byton and Aurora announced their partnership during last January’s CES tech show. While Aurora conducts self-driving testing in the U.S, Byton will be testing their EV SUV at its prototype manufacturing plant in Nanjing, China. There Byton will be conducting tests on vehicle durability and reliability. This “prototype” plant sits on the site where Byton’s future factory is currently under construction.
Byton’s SUV concept was unveiled at January 2018’s CES, back then founder and CEO Carsten Breitfled said that what was unveiled is as close as how the final production version of the SUV would look like. Though there were some changes made in the production version with slight adjustments in height, headlights, and improvements to the door latch designs. The interior with the massive touchscreen on the dash is unchanged and will be in the production version. Since then, Byton has had new investments funneled into the company with $500 million from various investors. One of the investors is China’s FAW Group. Meanwhile batteries that will power the all-electric SUV will be supplied by Tus-Holdings and CATL.
Byton says the base model M Byte with include a 70kW per hour battery pack that allows the EV to travel up to 250 miles on a single charge, while a pricier 90kW per hour battery pack will give you up to 325 miles.
The Byton SUV or as Byton calls it, an SIV “smart intuitive vehicle” will not be equipped with a Level 4 self-driving system, but instead a Level 2 system. This basically means that human driver intervention is still needed. Byton said using the prototypes to test Level 4 self-driving systems will allow this update to be integrated into its future vehicles.
Image Credits: Byton