If we thought we were going to be spoiled for choice with electric car models coming from traditional automakers in the next few years, we haven’t seen anything yet. Virtually unknown Chinese brands are going to be entering the market, too, with what could be incredibly competitive and compelling EVs.
Underscoring that fact, and essentially firing a warning shot, Chinese EV brand BYTON put out a press release this week announcing that it had wrapped prototype development of its M-BYTE luxury SUV model in Mongolia, China. What’s more, it revealed it has begun testing in North America. North American testing will ramp up through 2019 and conclude when production begins in BYTON’s home city of Nanjing, China.
BYTON bills itself as a maker of intelligent luxury vehicles for the future, designed for customers who want a “smart, safe, comfortable, and eco-friendly driving and mobility experience.”
Experience With Luxury
Although it’s a relative upstart carmaker, BYTON has some impressive bona fides — at least with its personnel. BYTON employs former managers from BMW, Tesla, Google, and Apple. Its headquarters are in Nanjing, China. However, it has a North American HQ in Silicon Valley. And its design center is in Munich, Germany.
It is exactly companies like BYTON why the European Union, in collaboration with Germany, is going to subsidize electric car battery technology development, which Volkswagen recently said it wanted in on. Simply, it doesn’t want European car brands to be out-gunned by Chinese firms with the financial resources and precious earth minerals to put them out of business. So the EU will have to subsidize R&D costs because European wages are potentially much higher than those in China. Not to mention China is willing to bend regulations to spur innovation.
Of course, this could all be a lot of handwringing for nothing. These cars might be quite bad and not compelling for customers. Something tells me that won’t be the case … at least not for long.