Just months after debuting its first concept vehicle, Chinese electric-car startup Byton on Tuesday took the wraps off a second model that it says previews a production-intent self-driving electric sedan with a lightweight, aerodynamic body.
The Byton K-Byte concept that the automaker showed off ahead of the 2018 CES Asia shares its underpinnings with the M-Byte crossover that bowed in January in Las Vegas.
Byton hasn’t detailed the K-Byte’s electric motor or its batteries. Its first concept, now known as the M-Byte crossover, is designed for 71- and 95-kilowatt-hour batteries, which the automaker says provide up to 310 miles of range.
Byton said Tuesday that the K-Byte features Level 4 self-driving technology—defined as high automation—which still requires a human driver in certain situations but can largely drive itself.
The K-Byte’s autonomous gear was developed by Aurora Innovation, which was started by the former head of Google’s self-driving car division Waymo.
Byton stands poised to take on Tesla and a spate of other automakers entering the electric vehicle market, assuming the Chinese automaker meets its ambitious production target. Byton said Tuesday that it intends to build the K-Byte by 2021, just behind the late-2019 estimate for its M-Byte crossover. The company has said that its third model will be a minivan.
Currently, Level 4 vehicles aren’t approved for consumer use in the U.S., but they are being tested by automakers and ride-sharing firms such as Lyft and Uber. Tesla’s Autopilot is currently a Level 2 system, but CEO Elon Musk has promised rapid evolution toward Levels 3 and 4.
Byton debuted the K-Byte on the heels of its announcement that it raised $500 million, with much of that investment coming from a Chinese automaker and a Chinese lithium-ion battery supplier.