You may not have heard of Byton, but you will. It’s a Chinese car company that plans to start production in the few months of its electric-powered M-Byte crossover utility vehicle. The company’s factory in Nanjing has a capacity to roll out 300,000 units a year, each offering a range of around 300 miles on a full charge and with a target price when they come to the United States of $45,000.
But what will get all the attention is the M-Byte’s dashboard, a 48-inch wide, curved-screen video display panel that runs the vehicle’s full width, door panel to door panel.
That’s not a typo. The screen is 48 inches wide, and can provide everything from sports scores to stock market reports to GPS directions to a cinema mode for watching movies.
The M-Byte production-ready prototype was officially unveiled earlier this week in Las Vegas during the press preview days for CES, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show. The Consumer Technology Association’s annual trade show officially opens January 6 and runs through the 10th and, like SEMA, overflows the ginormous Las Vegas Convention Center as well as several other Vegas venues.
One reason for Byton’s supersized screen on wheels is that, “life comes to a standstill when driving a car,” at least that’s what Byton’s chief executive said.
People “need to be connected,” he explained, adding that in today’s world and on tomorrow’s roads, data power is more important than horsepower.
Could he be more wrong?
And yet he’s not alone. Other executives said similar things, including such things as the interior of a car should be used for work or entertainment. These executives made no mention of the enjoyment many of us find simply in the act of driving.
For many of us, time spent grasping a steering wheel is anything but a waste (and for some of us it’s an opportunity to analog, to disconnect from the connected digital world).
Would you rather watch digitally cloud-connected images projected on a wide screen or enjoy the actual and wide-angle view through the windshield?
Several executives we heard during press days explained how driver aids can make us better drivers and the roads safer for all. Some admitted that fully automated travel in passenger cars isn’t going to happen anytime soon. And some apparently even enjoy the act of driving.
As Mercedes-Benz’s young and Swedish-born chairman Ola Kallenius noted, his company remains committed to its more than century-old belief that people like cars because they love the freedom “to go where they want when they want.”