By on January 2, 2019

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.

From CarScoops:

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.

[Images: Byton]

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19 Comments on “How Can Byton Possibly Sell Its ‘Driver Tablet’ In America?...”

  • avatar

    “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”

    It could hinge upwards, flat against the wheel.

    I mean, it’d be ruined by the force of the airbag, but you could DO it, plausibly.

    Not … sure that “center steering wheel” is a better/less-distracting UX location that “off to the right, up high”, which seems the best current location for such screens.

    (Looking off to the side a little lets your peripheral vision stay on the road. Looking down, eh, not so much?

    This is why the Garmin portable in my truck is on the dash, more or less in front of the driver’s seat, just below direct line of sight – minimal movement of eyes off the road to see the map.

    Equally, why HUDs are so nice; I just had a loaner XC60 with one while my XC70 was in the shop, and it was … honestly really nice.)

    • 0 avatar

      Well people tend to use touchscreens up close like phones and tablets so the steering wheel seems like the optimal location, just need redesign how airbags deploy around that area

      • 0 avatar

        Why? The airbag deploys from the center of the steering hub as usual, with the cover “hinged” to allow egress. About the only issue here will be how close to the wheel the driver sits (and I’ve known drivers who sit so close not even the current system would open properly.)

  • avatar

    No, that won’t generate any shrapnel when the airbag deploys…

  • avatar

    “Made you look!” –Byton

  • avatar

    *goes to honk the horn*

    *destroys touchscreen placed in the stupidest possible location*

  • avatar

    After doing all that work why did they leave so much clear windshield above it? Just make it ALL screen and put a camera up front with AR display. Also why bother with a steering wheel at all when future cars will drive themselves?

  • avatar

    if the tablet turns with the wheel and the display maintains orientation relative to the wheel… kind of foolish (most likely case)

    if the tablet turns with the wheel and the display maintains orientation relative to the “user” a little gimmicky but interesting. (could be added later with software update if not included initially)

    if the wheel turns but the “tablet” does not… interesting idea with extra cool points associated. (mechanically difficult, least likely)

    either way, both screens absolutely need “night theme/mode” excellent visibility in direct sunlight and industry-leading graphics acceleration.

  • avatar

    This thing is distracted driving, on steroids. But then again, it’ll probably crap out after a couple of years, so one problem will be replaced by another.

  • avatar

    How could they sell this to me? Well, if they held a big, nasty gun up to my head…

  • avatar

    Last pic shows different design, btw. If it has more room for airbag and e-paper type minimalist screen like on the last CGI(?) then it’s maybe doable.

  • avatar

    I have no doubt they’ll be able to sell the car; I just question the longevity of that oversized iPad.

  • avatar

    Brilliant design from Byton. I’m looking forward to see it in future cars.

  • avatar

    First Byton is an Asian brand so I do not see why it may not sell in US. In Europe it may be problematic but in US – no problem. People buy stuff in Walmart don’t they? Happily, all kind of stuff.

    Secondly airbag is an ultimate touch screen – it brings information directly into your face immediately.

  • avatar

    When my wife and I eat in a place with TV screens, she just can’t help watching that light and motion, no matter what’s on. I hope she never winds up driving one of these! The best thing about my new car is that it came with a button to turn the screen off, and that’s how I drive it- always.

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