How Can Byton Possibly Sell Its 'Driver Tablet' In America?
Chinese automaker Byton wowed the world when it introduced a concept vehicle playing host to more interior screen space than seemed wise. Both the K and M-Byte Concepts carried this trend through the past year by including a small interactive display inside the steering wheel.
At the time, we attributed the design as a fantastical inclusion meant to build hype for the burgeoning brand. But new details have emerged, indicating Byton wants to keep the concept interior all the way to assembly. According to CarScoops, a recent teaser image shows what’s rumored to be the production interior of the M-Byte, which makes its debut at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The manufacturer calls it the “world’s most intuitive automotive interface.”
I don’t know how to break this to Byton, but the “most intuitive automotive interface” probably won’t be a touchscreen. It will be a series of predictably orientated switches, knobs, and levers you don’t have to pause to examine with your eyes. However, the automaker seems adamant about keeping the Driver Tablet for the production model. How it plans to execute this concept without the omission of the driver’s side airbag is something we’d be interested in hearing.
Despite the similarities [to the concept vehicle], this model has a revised steering wheel which features an integrated screen that the company calls a “Driver Tablet.” As you can see in the teaser image, it provides easy access to commonly used features such as the radio and climate control system and also has icons for apps and settings.
More information re: the display is scheduled for release on January 6th. Meanwhile, Byton has already confirmed that the M-Byte will go into production for China this year.
Should the vehicle prove successful, and it looks as though it might be, the automaker plans to launch the base M-Byte in North America for 2020 with a $45,000 MSRP. That model uses a 71-kWh battery pack and produces produces 268 hp with 295 lb-ft of instantaneous torque through the rear wheels. There’s also an all-wheel drive variant with nearly double the power and an estimated range of around 320 miles.
Still, it seems awfully unlikely that Byton could ship either vehicle with the aforementioned Driver Tablet. Federal legislation makes airbags for all cars and light trucks sold inside the United States mandatory and we’ve no clue how the automaker could safely equip an airbag behind the screen. Our best guess is that U.S. buyers will have to go without Byton’s signature interior feature, with the company offering it as an optional extra elsewhere.
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