27 Jul 18

Byton M-Byte: 10 questions a fleet manager would ask

Electric disrupter Byton sets up camp in Amsterdam for a few days to present the concept of its D-segment crossover M-Byte. More than just a new OEM, it wants to be a provider of a digital experience never seen before in car land. Fleet Europe went North to get answers to 10 fleet-relevant questions.

  1. Which powertrain and battery technology does Byton use? The company is working together with Bosch for the electric motors and sources its batteries from CATL. The latter has a stake in Byton since a few months, giving the brand extra credibility. The basic battery gets up to 400 km from its 71-kWh capacity and feeds a 200-kW motor driving the rear wheels. The top version has 95 kWh of battery capacity, 350 kW of power and all-wheel drive.
  2. What about safety? Byton builds cars that are to be sold globally. That means they must comply with 3 safety standards: the Chinese, the European and the North American. The M-Byte has been developed by engineers from BMW i, using the latest technologies to ensure optimum crash resistance. Also, it comes with a plethora of advanced driver assistance systems.  Ultimately, it wants to become autonomous.
  3. Doesn’t the screen cause too much distraction? The entirely digital dashboard, called Shared Experience Display, is divided in three zones. The one in front of the driver displays the essential driving and/or navigation information, while the middle and the right one show whichever content the passengers want. The software of the display can be programmed to for instance stop showing driver-distracting images once the vehicle is in motion. The brightness can be adapted to the amount of light falling into the cabin.
  4. Will the Byton M-Byte be fully autonomous when it launches? Byton aims at level 3 autonomy when the car comes to market, meaning it can drive by itself under certain conditions and up to a certain speed. The cars will have the hardware for autonomous driving Level 3 built in when they leave the factory in case this package have been ordered by the costumer.
  5. How much will the M-Byte cost? The entry-level model will carry a price tag of about $45,000, or less than €40,000. That should make it the most affordable electric car in its segment. Still, it’s not a budget car. Byton is investing a lot in material quality, design, attention to detail, fit and finish and NVH. It wants to compete with the premium Germans.
  6. How do you operate the Byton M-Byte if there are virtually no buttons? The M-Byte comes with gesture control for each of its 4 occupants. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can command your car vocally thanks to Amazon Alexa. Finally, there is the steering-wheel tablet.
  7. Is the M-Byte the ideal car for shared mobility? Yes. For starters, you can open the M-Byte with your face thanks to advanced facial recognition technology. Next, it sets the vehicle to your preferred settings, regardless of the Byton you’re in. Also, connectivity and cloud technology are embedded in Byton’s DNA. The Byton Life cloud platform enables smart interactions between vehicle and occupants, allowing it to learn from your digital habits.
  8. What about data security? Byton makes sure your data are protected both in the cloud and in the vehicle. It cooperates with independent external experts to integrate the highest possible security level. Byton also applies self-learning gateway technology to analyse the security status, trace errors and take appropriate measures.
  9. Is this still a driver’s car, considering its digital focus? Very much so. It has been developed by people who also did the BMW i8, and that’s not exactly a Sunday cruiser. You can always switch off the 5G connection if you want to fully enjoy driving and not be disturbed by incoming messages.
  10. When can I order it? Byton will first serve the Chinese market: in late 2019 the early adopters should take delivery of their M-Byte. Six months later Byton will ship the first vehicles to the States. By the end of 2020 it’s the Old Continent’s turn. You can already pre-order one online, without committing yourself or having to pay a deposit.

Picture copyright: Dieter Quartier, 2018

Do you want to see the Byton M-Byte in the flesh? A prototype is exposed outside Hotel Conservatorium in Amsterdam from July 27 till July 29.

Authored by: Dieter Quartier