Byton to Start Production of M-Byte EV Crossover in 2019, K-Byte Sedan in 2020

Byton unveiled its first concept vehicle at CES this year, and it’s sticking to its original production timeline.

byStephen Edelstein|
Byton to Start Production of M-Byte EV Crossover in 2019, K-Byte Sedan in 2020

Chinese electric car startup Byton is sticking to its previously announced production deadline, claiming that the company's first vehicles could start rolling off the assembly line as soon as next year.

Byton unveiled its first concept vehicle at CES in January, but it plans to start production for the Chinese market in 2019, followed by launches in the United States and Europe in 2020. In an interview with Automotive News at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, Byton CEO Carsten Breitfeld confirmed that the company is still committed to that ambitious plan.

Byton's first production vehicle will be based on the CES concept, which was christened M-Byte after its unveiling at the Las Vegas tech trade show. The M-Byte is a crossover with less-dramatic performance figures than electric cars from rival startups like Faraday Future and Lucid Motors. Byton has said it will produce two versions: 272 horsepower and 250 miles of range, and another with 476 hp and 325 miles of range. The claimed $45,000 base price is lower than most competition, however.

Breitfeld told Automotive News that Byton wants to set realistic goals for vehicle performance. He also said Byton plans to focus more on building cars for shared fleets rather than sales to individual buyers. What good is 1,000 horsepower if you're not the one driving?

The M-Byte concept featured an elaborate infotainment system incorporating facial recognition and a cloud platform. At least some of these features will likely make it into the production version, which is currently undergoing testing in China. Byton is also working with U.S. startup Aurora Innovation on autonomous-driving tech.

Following the launch of the M-Byte, Byton plans to launch a production version of the K-Byte sedan concept, which made its U.S. debut in August at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. But just getting the M-Byte into production in such a short time frame could prove challenging. With the notable exceptions of Tesla and Chinese firm Nio, electric-car startups have had trouble living up to their promises. Byton's plans for a U.S. launch could also be complicated by ongoing tensions between the two countries over trade.

In the end, only time will tell.