SUV you can unlock with a face scan shows China’s car ambitions
Las Vegas: A China-based start-up established by former BMW AG executives is among the latest to take a swing at the growing market for electric and autonomous vehicles, competing against giants such as Nissan Motor Co. and General Motors Co.
Byton, formerly known as Future Mobility Corp., unveiled a concept SUV at CES in Las Vegas on Sunday, and said its first mass production model will be available for sale next year starting at $45,000. The company will complete its Nanjing factory in late 2018 and start production a year later, chief operating officer and co-founder Daniel Kirchert told reporters at the event.
Promising internet connectivity and digital services in its smart intuitive vehicles, or SIVs, Byton is among a crop of companies aiming to upend traditional carmakers as power trains move away from polluting fuels.
They are also seeking to take on leaders such as Tesla Inc. by offering newer technologies as the race heats up for batteries with longer driving ranges and as leading markets, including China, consider phasing out automobiles powered by gasoline and diesel.
“China is the world’s fastest-growing and biggest EV market, but at the same time, it is short of global players and companies producing products that can compete with the best premium players in the world,” Kirchert said.
Some of the features of the Byton car include face recognition cameras to unlock doors and voice recognition using Amazon.com Inc.’s Alexa.
Kirchert said in August that their start-up received $200 million from a fund of Suning Holdings Group Co. and some state-owned firms in Jiangsu province. Byton also counts investors including China Harmony New Energy Auto Holding Ltd.
Another Chinese EV start-up, NIO, set up in 2014 by founder William Li and a group of internet entrepreneurs, started selling its first model last month at about $69,000. Tesla’s Model 3 starts at $35,000. NIO has raised more than $1 billion from investors including Tencent Holdings Ltd., according to people familiar with the matter. Bloomberg
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