The electric car builders at Byton brought the production build of their fully electric M-Byte SUV to the Frankfurt Auto Show for its big reveal to the world. They only build EVs and they have no plans to do it otherwise because as they see it, battery-powered electric vehicles are the future. Here at CleanTechnica, we couldn’t agree more. We have been eagerly watching the evolution of the Byton M-Byte over the last few years, from the prototype at Pebble Beach to the more recent pre-production builds at their Santa Clara, California offices last year, and again at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
Fast forward to today, and Byton headed to Frankfurt to drop its production ready electric SUV in the country that gave birth to the first petrol powered automobiles. Just before the Frankfurt Auto Show this week, Bjørn Nyland had a talk with Byton CTO David Twohig about some of the more technical bits that make the M-Byte tick, digging into some of the fun charging, heating, range, and comfort tech that make up the M-Byte.
Long Range or Standard Range?
The Byton M-Byte is coming to market with two primary vehicle configurations. Let’s call the one with more range the Long Range configuration. This is the higher end build of the M-Byte and comes with a battery pack with 95 kilowatt-hours of usable capacity. Byton confirmed that this is in fact the capacity that can be used for driving and noted that while they aren’t ready to share the total capacity, the pack is oversized to allow for extra headroom up top and down below for reserve. The larger battery pack also translates to faster charging than a car with a comparable total battery capacity, but we’ll get into that later.
The Long Range M-Byte extracts up to 435 kilometers (270 miles) of range per charge on the WLTP cycle with its dual motors. It packs a 200 kilowatt permanent magnet synchronous motor from Bosch in the rear and another Bosch permanent magnet synchronous motor rated at 150 kilowatts up front to keep all of the wheels moving. According to Byton’s CTO, these new Bosch motors will be released to the masses next year. Byton leverages torque splitting to most accurately split the 402 horsepower being laid down by the dual motors to minimize tire squealing and maximize traction.
When it comes to charging, the M-Byte can hold its own in the world of fast charging. The Long Range M-Byte boasts a maximum charging speed of 150 kW that can take the car from 0-80% in around 35 minutes on a 150 kW charger. Or, if you’re in a rush, it can add 100 kilometers in just 10 minutes, or about the time it takes to pick up a cup of your favorite coffee. In European markets, the M-Byte can be equipped with an optional onboard 22 kW AC charger, with an 11 kW AC onboard charger being the default configuration.
The Standard Range M-Byte can clearly hold its own against the best electric SUVs out there, with up to 360 kilometers (224 miles) of range per charge on the WLTP cycle. When it comes time to use some of that range, the Standard Range M-Byte puts the rubber to the road with the same 200 kW permanent magnet synchronous rear motor as the Long Range configuration for a total of 268 horsepower.
Its smaller battery pack is similarly overbuilt, with extra capacity to mitigate degradation from being overcharged or completely drained. Even with its smaller battery, the Standard Range M-Byte is still able to charge at a max DC charging speed of 120 kW, on AC at 11 kW with the base charger, or at 22 kW with the optional (for European markets) onboard 22 kW AC charger.
Peeling back the wraps from the battery pack, Byton revealed that it will be purchasing the prismatic battery cells from CATL. Byton’s relationship with CATL is unique in that CATL is also an investor in Byton, making it the only battery company to invest directly in an electric vehicle company. That additional leverage gives Byton a leg up on the competition when it comes to locking in battery cell capacity, getting the inside scoop on new battery chemistries, and in keeping the door open on the possibility of partnering with CATL to build its battery cells in a shared manufacturing facility to cut costs.
The battery pack in the M-Byte comes packed with an active liquid thermal management system that can balance heating and cooling needs of the overall vehicle between the powertrain, battery, and occupants. We primarily talk about battery cooling as this is a critical factor for ensuring a long battery life, but battery heating is equally important in colder climates.
To supplement the heating and cooling generated by the battery and powertrain, the M-Byte packs a one-two punch with a new heat pump that has been combined with PTC (positive temperature coefficient) heating that efficiently generates heat from electricity.
The Road To Market
The Byton M-Byte’s arrival has been delayed slightly, with the first deliveries in China having slipped from the end of 2019 to mid-2020. Overseas customers in Europe and North America will also be waiting a few more months, with delivery estimates slipping from the back half of 2020 to a more rounded 2021 estimate.
The M-Byte will be built in Byton’s new US$1.5 billion 800,000 square meter factory in Nanjing, China that boasts German manufacturing equipment from the experts at Kuka and Dürr, to name a few. The factory will be able to churn out 300,000 electric vehicles per year after the initial production ramp up at startup.
In preparation for the push to production, Byton has been putting the M-Byte through brutal testing, with about 100 prototypes roaming around. This month, Byton will open an R&D center at its new Nanjing factory, where it will continue to push the envelope on electric vehicle, user interface, and transportation technologies, all backed by a core competency in advanced IT and data management.
Byton has already locked in more than 50,000 reservations from eager customers around the world for the new fully electric SUV that is expected to start at a price of around 45,000 euros. The reservation process will kick into high gear in the next year for customers in Europe and North America, with reservations giving way to advanced orders with payment.
For all the latest details on the Byton M-Byte, come back here to CleanTechnica or head over to the official internet home of the M-Byte over at Byton.