Here's the Latest EV Startup Trying to Take Down Tesla

All images captured by Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo, unless otherwise noted.
All images captured by Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo, unless otherwise noted.

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.

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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.

Illustration for article titled Heres the Latest EV Startup Trying to Take Down Tesla
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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, a built-in app ecosystem so you can monitor and control the car from your phone.

The car even has 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 on 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 showed at its press event that could separate its concept from a 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 claims can handle speeds up to 100 gigabits per second. Byton also says its car will be the first to feature a touchscreen embedded inside the steering wheel.

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

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.

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Illustration for article titled Heres the Latest EV Startup Trying to Take Down Tesla

Unfortunately, details remain scarce as to what kind of tech and engines are powering Byton’s concept. However, the company is already marking its territory by proclaiming it will sell a base model starting at $45,000 with a range of 250 miles, along with a more expensive model capable of 325 miles on a single charge.

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Illustration for article titled Heres the Latest EV Startup Trying to Take Down Tesla

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 skeptical about Byton’s prospects—especially with a timeline that has cars being sold by the end 2019, from 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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Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

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DISCUSSION

Love it, bring them all on.

As a worker in the oil industry, i cant wait for EV to destroy the oil industry within the next ten years.

People need to stop having range anxiety, next to no one travels 300KM+ in a day. Current EV ranges are good enough for 95% of the population. Everyone has this irrational fear of range for that once a year road trip that they go on.

People also need to move past the historical and engrained notion of gas stations. People will be charging up at home, not while out and about town. Travelers will charge up at their hotels and at malls (each of which are experiencing a wave of installation of charging stations currently). Where there once was dozens/hundreds of gas stations in a city (depending on size) there may only be a handful for travellers passing through cities.

So much of the shift to EV’s and it is a paradigm shift will have to force us to rethink the last 100 years of how we did things.

So bring on all the new companies, push the shift faster.