TECH INSIDER | BYTON M-BYTE
and crash safety requirements.
It comprises an aluminum tray
manufactured by Constellium,
containing CATL modules which
are liquid-cooled to enable DC
charging at up to 150kW via either
a CCS or GBT connector. CATL’s
relationship with Byton was so close that
they have since become a shareholder.
Twohig’s role was to deliver the claimed 90%
transfer of the concept into a production reality and, as a
relatively small manufacturer, close supplier partnerships
enabled Byton’s own engineers to focus on systems where
there was no market solution available. For example, the
cabin materials were co-developed with Faurecia, but
the graphics processors behind the shatter-proof 48in
dashboard display were bespoke, developed in-house.
“We are not an EV maker who thinks we can do
everything better in house than everybody else,” he
continues. “We’re trying to take the best of the traditional
car industry, and combine that with the best of Silicon
Valley and China. There are truly world-class suppliers out
there, who have been in the business for a long time and
understand the challenges of EV startups. We’re happy
to work with them and have them as partners.”
Visual changes couldn’t always be avoided. Euro NCAP
pedestrian safety requirements resulted in a raised bonnet line,
and the production car features conventional mirrors instead of
cameras. Twohig attributes the latter to “negligible”
aerodynamic gains versus the cost of legally-required
10 // January 2020 // www.electrichybridvehicletechnology.com
additional screens in positions on the door card or A-pillar.
These could, he says, be added later.
The first of around 100 attribute prototypes began road
testing in August 2018, assembled at the Nanjing plant less
than 11 months after the plant broke ground, and Twohig
says a lot of the “miles-intensive” validation work was
done within China. This offers a uniquely broad
selection of terrain and climate testing conditions,
from -30ºC (-22ºF) in Inner Mongolia, to
hot weather testing in the Gobi Desert, and
world-class test facilities including CATARC
in Tianjin. Byton also now has its own R&D
center in the country.
However, this was a global project, with
prototypes shipped to Germany for validation
of chassis and driver assistance systems with
Bosch, South Korea with Mando, and additional
hot and cold weather testing in the United
States. There are no plans for market-specific
chassis calibrations, though digital content will vary
– Chinese versions will be based on the Baidu OS, while
North America and Europe will use Amazon’s Alexa instead.
Rapid advances in development didn’t go unnoticed.
“When you’re in an EV startup, and nobody knows who you
are, you start by selling the company to the vendor base.
You’re convincing these guys that you’re going to exist, and
that you want to build cars one day,” recalls Twohig.
“From 2018 I saw suppliers become convinced that we are
for real. That relationship changed very quickly, in the space
of around six to eight months, from us having to convince
vendors to supply parts to us, to them knocking on the door
saying they would like to do business with Byton.”
Customer deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2020, and
Twohig says the company is fine-tuning pre-production
models ready for series manufacture – the Nanjing plant has
a 300,000-unit annual capacity.
“Fine tuning is what makes a premium car, and we will
continue to polish it and continue to refine it until it’s right
- we will not put the car out half ready,” he states. “Talk
is cheap in this business, but when you walk the walk and
you actually take suppliers around the plants, you can
show them an off-tool production body with very, very
good geometry built in our plant… that’s worth a million
1. Touchscreen controls
remove physical buttons
within the cabin
2. The M-Byte has
undergone an extensive
global testing program
3. A tech-laden interior
features a 48in HD dash
display and steering
4. David Twohig, Byton’s
chief technical offi cer