- byton is a chinese ev startup that plans to start selling cars in the u.s. by 2021.
- the company had previously announced u.s. sales starting in 2020, but says that its first model, the m-byte crossover, is not ready yet.
- the m-byte offers either a 72.0-kwh or 95.0-kwh battery pack and up to 402 horsepower.
last year at the consumer electronics show (ces), we learned about byton, a startup automaker from china with plans to eventually sell electric cars in the u.s. this year byton had plenty of updates to share, including a new example of the m-byte crossover, pictured here, in a far more production-ready form than the previous concept version.
just because the m-byte looks ready to hit the road, though, doesn't mean its arrival in the u.s. is imminent. byton now says that the car will launch in the u.s. sometime in 2021, pushing back the claimed timeline from last year that aimed at 2020 for an on-sale date in the states. byton told c/d it is currently in the final stages of factory certification and that it is conducting testing of the car in extreme hot and cold temperatures.
the m-byte itself is a fairly conventional-looking compact crossover with five seats, four normal doors, and a footprint roughly the same size as the lexus rx. its body is made of steel and aluminum and it has a lithium-ion battery pack under the floor. both rear- and all-wheel-drive variants will be offered, with the former having a single 268-horsepower motor in the rear and the latter adding a 201-horsepower front motor for a total output of 402 hp. byton claims a zero to 62 mph time of 7.5 seconds for the rwd model and 5.5 seconds for the awd model.
a 72.0-kwh battery pack is standard and a 95.0-kwh battery is optional. although official epa range numbers are not available yet, we estimate the smaller battery to provide an epa range of around 202 miles and the larger battery to achieve around 257 miles with rear-wheel drive and 243 miles with all-wheel drive.
the m-byte's party piece is a massive 48-inch screen inside that spans nearly the entire width of the dashboard. it appears as a single seamless display but is actually powered by two different operating systems, according to neil banerjee, head of digital product and program management for byton. there are also touchscreen interfaces mounted on the steering wheel and the center console. banerjee said that byton aims to partner with companies so that the screen can run apps for things such as video streaming or video conference calls (while the vehicle is parked, of course).
as for price, byton has announced that the m-byte will start at €45,000 in europe, meaning we could expect a base price somewhere in the $50,000 range in the u.s. the company claims to be working on a tesla-like retail model that will include online sales and in-person sales at certain "flagship byton places," while other non-flagship locations serving as showrooms will be located in shopping malls and the like and won't be able to facilitate sales transactions.