Concept Cars

Byton K-Byte sedan concept is less a car and more a 'smart device'

It's like the car Faraday Future wishes it had.

Byton

Byton wowed the crowds at CES in January with the debut of its at-the-time unnamed electric SUV concept. Now it's back with a sedan, and it's looking just as good.

The Byton K-Byte concept, debuting at CES Asia, is the first time Byton has applied a name to its vehicles. The Chinese-based startup has retroactively renamed its SUV concept the M-Byte, and these two vehicles will be part of a three-car lineup relying on "Byte" names. All three will be built on a single shared platform, which should help keep costs low.

Is it just me, or do all these startups (Lucid, Faraday et al) have similar designs?

Byton

Since it's a concept, there aren't many actual specs available, but the K-Byte is one seriously impressive looker. It has the same sort of everything-jammed-together front end that we've seen in other concept cars such as the Lucid Air and the Faraday Future FF 91. The back sort of mirrors the front, but there's some interesting styling on the C-pillar.

If you're wondering what all those weird attachments are, it's part of the car's autonomous driving system. Byton announced that it's partnering with Aurora, a startup dedicated to creating a SAE Level 4 self-driving platform. Aurora's CEO is none other than ex-Google whiz kid Chris Urmson, so you know it's a serious company. It's already penned agreements with both Hyundai and Volkswagen, so it appears Byton will be in good shape.

When the vehicle isn't operating autonomously, certain components like the cameras under the side mirrors are capable of retracting into the body.

What's perhaps most interesting is that Byton doesn't really refer to its concepts as cars, but rather as smart devices. That's the way many startups are treating cars -- as a means to a connected end. Byton envisions a whole ecosystem of connectivity around the car, although it's still a little light on details at the moment.

Byton isn't content to sit around and let its concepts languish. The company is serious about becoming a true automaker. The cars will be built in China, where its R&D facility is located, but it also has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Munich, Shanghai and Silicon Valley. Byton's president claims the sedan will be ready for consumers in 2021, which isn't that far off.