Byton EV Begins Road Tests in China
Future Mobility Corp.’s Byton unit says it has begun testing its upcoming M-Byte electric crossover vehicle on test tracks and public roads near its Nanjing headquarters in China.
FMC formed the brand last year and unveiled the M-Byte concept in January at the CES electronics show in Las Vegas. The company aims to start sales in China by the end of 2019, then spread to the U.S. and Europe in 2020.
Byton plans to build 100 pre-production prototypes in Nanjing by year-end. Ten of the vehicles will be shipped to the U.S., where they will be fitted with Level 4 self-driving technology developed partner Aurora Innovation Inc., company officials tell Tech Crunch.
In June, FMC raised $500 million for Byton in a funding round led by Chinese carmaker FAW, Ningde-based battery producer CATL and Tsinghua University’s Tus-Holdings investment arm.
The concept vehicle included a host of connected and automated vehicle technologies. Byton plans to offer two electric powertrain options, with the top-level package generating 470 hp and providing a 330-mile range.
According to Kunihiro Hoshi, chief engineer for the GX 470: “Three of my top goals were to create a body-on-frame vehicle with sweeping off-road performance and unibody-like on-road capability, and, of course, it had to meet the Lexus quality standard.” He met his goals. But why would anyone want to bang this vehicle around on rocks?
The functional build method says that you aren’t going to stamp perfect body panels, so you might as well accept the fact and deal with it. And dealing with it can result in reduced costs, faster time to market, and remarkable fit and finish. Sounds outlandish, but they’ve been using the method at Japanese auto companies for years, and who is lower cost, faster and more lauded for quality?
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