Byton M-Byte: full details, pricing and specs for new Chinese electric SUV

New SUV from Chinese brand Byton debuts at Frankfurt Motor Show

Byton, a new Chinese electric car company, has unveiled its first production car, the M-Byte. The pure-electric SUV is 4,875mm long, so it’s bigger than a Jaguar I-Pace but smaller than an Audi e-tron.

Deliveries in China will start by the middle of 2020 and Byton hopes to start taking pre-orders from European customers next year, too, with sales expected to follow in 2021.

Byton's CEO confirmed to our sister title Auto Express at the Frankfurt Motor Show that a right-hand-drive version would be available for the UK market and suggested that the entry-level M-Byte will cost from €45,000 (about £40,000) in Europe, not including local taxes or any government subsidies.

Based in Nanjing, China, Byton also has offices in Munich, Germany, and Santa Clara, USA. Its second production car – the Byton K-Byte – is set arrive in 2021, using the same platform as the M-Byte.

Byton M-Byte performance

The M-Byte will come with a choice of rear or four-wheel drive, with power outputs of 268 and 402bhp respectively. Acceleration figures claim the rear-drive M-Byte can hit 62mph from rest in 7.5 seconds while the four-wheel-drive version can do the same in around 5.5 seconds. The top speed for both is 118mph.

There are three versions to choose from. The entry-level model is a rear-drive version with a 71kWh battery, that should have a driving range of 224 miles on a full charge. There’s also a 95kWh version of the same model, which increases the range to 286 miles.

Earlier this year, the SUV concluded a cold-weather testing programme in Inner Mongolia, China (above). Prototypes covered thousands of miles, encountering temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius. Engineers worked to ensure the battery, electric motor and other components are reliable in extreme conditions.

Interior and technology

Inside, as previewed on the concept car shown at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, the highlight is a 48-inch curved screen that replaces the fascia. This is officially called a ‘Shared Experience Display’ (SED) and is expected to allow gesture and voice control.

Byton claims it's the world's largest in-car display for a production model. Byton demonstrated a system at last year's CES; it allows drivers to control an on-screen cursor using hand motions, with commands executed by snapping fingers. Integration of Amazon Alexa was also mooted. The SED display doesn’t have touchscreen functionality, but there’s a touch pad as well as seven-inch screen in the steering wheel to control it if you don’t want to use gesture control.

Byton describes the M-Byte as a ‘Smart Intuitive Vehicle’, or SIV. One of the many proposed technologies is facial recognition, which could be deployed in place of the conventional key to lock and unlock the M-Byte. Byton drivers will have access to Byton Life, which is described as an "open digital ecosystem" that connects applications, data, and smart devices.

It has machine-learning capabilities that analyse the user’s schedule, location, preferences, and application data to provide functions such as scheduling reminders, online shopping tasks and remote charging management. It can also recognise voices of different users and sounds from different directions in the car.

Various autonomous driving features are expected when the M-Byte goes on sale, with the company promising further over-the-air upgrades to expand the car’s abilities at a later stage.