Byton M-Byte: The Electric Car With an Eye-Popping 48-Inch Screen Dashboard

It gives a new meaning to big-screen entertainment.

The battle of the single-screen dashboards is heating up. The Chinese electric vehicle-maker Byton took the wraps off the interior design for its M-Byte this week, and its dashboard must be seen to be believed. The company’s giant, 48-inch screen has been dubbed a “shared experience display.”

It’s a bold design for the upcoming sport utility vehicle, which appears to take inspiration from other futuristic, but minimalist designs like the Tesla Model 3 or the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz hippie van. But its displays are what truly make it unique, in addition to the curved 48-inch screen, the interior also features a seven-inch driver tablet that sits in the center of the steering wheel, and an eight-inch central touchpad in the console.

But these additional screens pale in comparison to the engulfing shared display, which Byton claims is the largest ever fitted to a serial production vehicle. It’s true that some concept designs are even more display-centric, for example the concept for an Audi flying car with a 49-inch touchscreen. But Byton’s car is expected to hit roads as early as this year.

The M-Byte's interior design.
The M-Byte's interior design.

The display has already been criticized for being gimmicky. After a test drive, Electrek called the screens as “quite awful,” but the automaker has a number of ideas for how to put this three-screened design to good use. A promotional video clipped above shows the driver and passenger using the two screens to call up a GPS-powered map, video call a friend using the camera, scroll through music, and even play multiplayer games. The demonstration even shows gesture-powered volume controls, with the driver turning down the music with a flick of the hand.

The central console.
The central console.

The screen is just one aspect of the M-Byte’s future-focused approach to car design. Previous concept designs showed a number of unique ideas, including facial recognition cameras and interactive lights. The side-view mirrors have been replaced with cameras, a feature also seen on Tesla’s upcoming second-generation Roadster. Augmented reality mirrors also provide information to the driver. While that seems like an avalanche of information to contend with, the company’s concept literature explains that all the systems have been tested against distraction.

Byton's gesture sensor system.
Byton's gesture sensor system.

Byton is not the first to begin putting screens onto dashboards. The Tesla Model 3, the firm’s entry-level sedan, eschews an instrument cluster in favor of a single 15-inch touchscreen in the center of the dashboard. CEO Elon Musk justified the absence of a speedometer behind the steering wheel by the fact that the car will one day support full autonomous driving, making such information less necessary.

Byton M-Byte: How the Car Came to Life

Byton is a brand from Future Mobility Corp, founded in early 2016 with backing from Chinese internet giant Tencent. It’s one of many young brands seeking to leapfrog internal combustion engines and capture the fledgeling electric car market, similar to Tesla. Co-founder Carsten Breitfeld said at the time that their goal is to “create the first Chinese brand which is premium and internationally successful.”

Byton M-Byte testing.
Byton M-Byte testing.

The company’s first car is expected to start at $45,000, with a 71-kilowatt-hour model offering 200 miles of range and a 95-kilowatt-hour version packing 325 miles of range. Fast charging will take the car to 80 percent power in 30 minutes. A 200-kilowatt rear motor will power the lower models, with plans for a dual-motor option also expected.

Byton taking some tests.
Byton taking some tests.

Byton put the prototype through its paces ahead of launch. In April, it described how it sent the car through tough conditions in inner Mongolia, where temperatures reached to minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit. Around 100 prototypes are being tested in both the United States and China.

The M-Byte is scheduled for launch in China by the end of 2019, followed by the United States in the second half of 2020 and in Europe by the end of 2020.