Many well-known car brands are missing at the IAA in Frankfurt. In order to do that you will learn new names in hall 8. Here Wey, Hongqi and Byton show their vehicles. All three automakers come from China. "While we have a lot of German DNA," says Byton CEO Daniel Kirchert in an interview. The design of the brand's first electric car was created in Munich. Many employees have previously worked for German manufacturers.
At the beginning, the startup founded in 2016 had a German leading duo. Meanwhile, Kirchert is the sole CEO. He grew up in Germany, but as a student he moved to China to get to know country, people and language, he says. After working for BMW Brilliance and Infiniti in China, the car manager landed as the founder and CEO of Byton. He is married to a Chinese and lives most of the time in Nanjing, 300 km west of Shanghai.
In the capital of Jiangsu Province is the Byton headquarters, here was also the work. The construction work in the halls is completed, and in October press, paint shop and the production line with 350 robots will start up. Initially only a test case, in the first half of 2020 production vehicles should roll off the line for customers in China.
Of the 50,000 reservations, almost 20,000 come from Europe. But here and in North America, the prospects must be patient until 2021. That's why the trade fair appearance in Frankfurt is so amazing. Byton could have come to the next IAA. "Frankfurt is important to us - we want to show that we can keep up with the German premium manufacturers in terms of safety and quality," says Kirchert, "and we even overtake the digital user interfaces."
Full screen screen
The international development team had a requirement: more digital strength than horsepower. The software for the car is programmed in Santa Clara, Silicon Valley. Each seat in the vehicle provides access to a monitor connected to the Internet via 5G. Driver and front passenger look at a 126 cm wide screen - never before in a car. Apart from the buttons for gear selection, there are only buttons on the steering wheel.
The steering wheel is dominated by a tablet. Here, the driver makes settings, because the large screen is not a touch screen. So that the co-driver can also select music or switch on the air conditioning, there is a second tablet in the center console. Alternatively, ask Alexa by voice command to change a setting. The third option is gestures. A camera in the roof recognizes given hand signals. "Louder", "Next title" or "Answer call" can be displayed in no time.
This vehicle is called M-byte. A name that rightly remembers storage volumes. Byton has been inspired by Apple rather than Audi - it's an iPhone on wheels, the rolling second living or working room.
The two front seats can be turned ten degrees inwards, so you can talk better with each other, as well as with the people in the back seat. On the big screen you have the choice between road maps, music, TV series, feature films or a chat history. Of course, the drive-in only works when the car is parked.