Nanjing, China-based Future Mobility Corp.’s Byton brand is partnering with Aurora Innovation Inc. on autonomous driving technologies for the electric vehicles the carmaker is developing.
Aurora—a Silicon Valley tech company founded in late 2016 by former Google, Tesla and Uber executives—struck deals with Volkswagen and Hyundai last month. Those carmakers aim to launch Level 4 self-driving vehicles with Aurora’s technologies by 2021.
Byton unveiled a prototype electric crossover vehicle (pictured) last month at the CES electronics show in Las Vegas. The company aims to introduce the midsize model by the end of next year in China and in 2020 in Europe and the U.S. A sedan and MPV built on the same platform also are said to be in the works.
The first vehicle will be launched with Level 3 autonomy. But Byton says it will work with Aurora to add Level 4 capability sometime in 2020. Pricing is expected to start at about $45,000.
Byton will offer two- and all-wheel-drive versions, with the latter generating 469 hp and 524 lb-ft of torque. Two battery levels also will be available, with a driving range of either 250 miles or 320 miles.
The concept also features a variety of telematic systems and several large display screens. Facial recognition technology is used to unlock the doors and monitor biometric data.
Byton, which has raised more than $250 million from investors, broke ground on a manufacturing plant in Nanjing last September and opened a Silicon Valley office in December. The company is headed by CEO Carsten Breitfeld, a 20-year BMW veteran who led the development of the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, and President Daniel Kirchert, who previously was in charge of Infiniti's China operations.
This is the 3E. A design by the renowned automotive designer Camilo Pardo, the man behind many striking designs, including the ‘05/’06 production Ford GT.
Although all OEMs and suppliers do their utmost best to assure nothing but top-notch quality is achieved for their vehicles and systems, sometimes things simply go wrong because, well, that’s just how the Universe is.
Elio Motors is something of a brash company.