i3 - May/June 2018 - 10
By Cindy Loffler Stevens
I N N OVATO R
Dr. Carsten Breitfeld
ars are the next-generation smart device.
Everything you can do on
your smartphone will
soon be possible in your
car, controlled by touch,
gesture and voice. The
global launch of a new Chinese electric
vehicle brand, BYTON, grabbed headlines at CES 2018 with its concept SUV.
Formerly known as Future Mobility, the
startup's nearly production-ready "smart
intuitive vehicle," is an all-electric SUV
with a futuristic-looking dashboard
centered on smart mobility. Its key interface feature is the 49-by-10-inch "coastto-coast" screen that includes voice recognition, hand gesture detection and a
touch-screen steering wheel. The car also
uses facial recognition to identify its passengers and Amazon's Alexa to provide
shared digital experiences for all in the car.
Machine learning allows the interface to
make personalized suggestions for users
and also communicate data to other
BYTON vehicles on the road. The vehicle
will include 5G connectivity and drive 400
kilometers on one charge. BYTON seeks to
build affordable intelligent EVs and is partnering with Robert Bosch GmbH and
France's Faurecia to make this happen.
The company was established in 2016
by CEO and Co-founder Dr. Carsten
Breitfeld, an expert in electric mobility
with a PhD in mechanical engineering. He
spent the past 20 years at BMW in executive roles, leading a range of engineering
divisions within chassis development,
powertrain development and corporate
strategy, and working as a leading engineer
for BMW's i8 electric car. Fellow
Co-founder and President Dr. Daniel
Kirchert previously was in charge of marketing at BMW's venture in China. And
he was president of Infinite's China
venture after then.
The brand is rolling out in China
first because the government is prioritizing infrastructure for autonomous
and electric vehicles. BYTON has its
global headquarters and manufacturing base in Nanjing. The R&D center
responsible for the design of prototype
models is based in Munich, Germany.
Its North American headquarters are
in Silicon Valley, the world's tech center. The key focus of the office is developing cutting-edge technologies in
intelligent car user experience and
autonomous driving, as well as developing and overseeing operations in the
North American market. The company
is building its plant in Nanjing, China,
with its first mass production model
expected for sale in 2019 and two other
car launches expected by 2022. Dr.
Breitfeld spoke with i3 about the company's plans at CES Asia and beyond.
Q What differentiates BYTON from
other EV startups?
A First, BYTON is a global company
with roots in China with the vision to
build truly premium, connected,
electric vehicles for future mobility.
Our headquarters and plant are based
in Nanjing. The R&D center responsible
for the design of the prototype and
concept models is based in Munich,
Germany. And our North American
headquarters is in Silicon Valley, focusing
on developing cutting-edge technologies
for intelligent car experiences and
autonomous driving, as well as developing
and overseeing operations in the North
American market. Our target is to leverage
global resources to build a premium brand
from China, known by the world.
Second, we have perhaps the best
CEO Dr. Carsten Breitfeld (right)
and President Dr. Daniel
team, which combines premium cars
manufacturing experience with innovative internet thinking. Key team members
include those from successful carmakers
BMW and Tesla, as well as high tech companies like Google and Apple.
Last but not least, we are not building
another electric vehicle, but the nextgeneration smart device on four wheels. For
the past century, the car industry has been
pursuing the power of speed. But we believe
I T I S I N N O VAT I O N