Tesla’s success has made it clear that car shoppers in the luxury segment will embrace electric vehicles as long as they provide enough driving range to serve as practical transportation. It’s not surprising, then, that other automakers are rolling out innovative electric vehicles aimed at well-heeled car buyers.
It’s always exciting when a new automaker joins the fray to compete in a hot segment. That’s exactly what’s happened with the arrival of Byton and Rivian, two new carmakers that focus exclusively on electrified luxury vehicles. Below we’ll take a look at what these fresh-faced upstarts are all about.
What’s the Story on Byton?
With headquarters in Nanjing, China, and branches in Shanghai, Munich, Beijing, Hong Kong, Santa Clara, and Los Angeles, Byton is truly a global company. This start-up is focused squarely on innovation, and its goal is to turn the car into a “next-generation smart device.”
To accomplish this, the company aims to leverage the knowledge of its automotive engineers and the skills of its computing experts. Byton claims the one thing that sets it apart from other carmakers is the fact that it has these two sets of experts working under the same roof. According to Byton, this creates an environment in which “automobiles and digital literacy are equally at home with each other.”
What Vehicles Does Byton Offer?
Byton has rolled out concept versions of two models: the M-Byte SUV (see lead photo) and the K-Byte sedan. Production versions are expected to hit the market within the next couple of years.
Byton’s M-Byte SUV serves up electrified luxury with an emphasis on cutting-edge technology. (Byton)
The M-Byte concept vehicle is an electric luxury SUV that balances off-road capability and premium refinement. Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the M-Byte concept is its plentiful dashboard screen space. Byton has stated that its goal with the M-Byte was to create a vehicle that can easily display many different types of digital content, from videos to navigation information.
The M-Byte definitely has the screen acreage to tackle the task. This SUV’s cabin is anchored by a 48-inch display screen that offers three areas for content. There’s also a 7-inch tablet located above the steering wheel and independent second-row screens for rear-seat passengers.
Byton also has the K-Byte concept vehicle waiting in the wings. This square-jawed sedan has an assertive exterior design, and it’s focused on offering technologies that support autonomous driving. Byton has been working closely with Aurora, a world leader in technology regarding autonomous driving, to boost the K-Byte’s capabilities in this area.
What’s the Story on Rivian?
With headquarters in Plymouth, Michigan, and facilities in California and Illinois, Rivian is a homegrown car company and automotive technology provider. It was founded in 2009 by CEO Robert Scaringe, who graduated with a doctorate degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Rivian is exclusively dedicated to creating “products and services related to sustainable transportation.”
What Vehicles Does Rivian Offer?
In November 2018, Rivian announced its first two products. There’s the R1T, a 5-passenger pickup truck, and the R1S, a 7-passenger SUV. Both vehicles have an electric powertrain and are designed to blend top-dollar luxury with formidable off-road performance.
Rivian claims that the R1T offers more lockable storage than any other pickup on the market. It provides a spacious front trunk, as well as a lockable storage area that sits under the cabin and extends across the length of the vehicle.
According to Rivian, the R1T delivers a driving range of more than 400 miles and can sprint from zero-to-60 mph in as little as 3 seconds. It can tow over 11,000 pounds and provides over 14 inches of ground clearance.
Pricing is expected to start at $61,500, after a federal tax credit is applied. Rivian says it plans to begin deliveries in late 2020.
With an angular appearance that resembles that of the Land Rover Range Rover, the R1S SUV looks purposeful and commanding. Inside, its cabin boasts a premium aesthetic complemented by sustainably sourced wood.
Like the R1T, the R1S can hustle from zero-to-60 mph in just 3 seconds, the company says, and it offers over 14 inches of ground clearance. Rivian also claims the SUV can travel more than 410 miles between charges.
The R1S features a large liftgate and a smaller tailgate. The tailgate folds out to provide seating, and it can be used as a prep area during ski trips or hiking expeditions.
Rivian’s R1S is expected to kick off at $65,000 after a federal tax credit. Deliveries will start in late 2020.