CES 2020

Byton announces partnerships with ViacomCBS, AccuWeather

Photo courtesy of Byton

New Byton vehicles will come equipped with a 48-inch display, dubbed the M-Byte, centered at the front directly in the line of sight of all occupants of the car. In addition to relevant drive information and controls for comfort and convenience features, the screen will display entertainment programming and weather information thank to new partnerships with ViacomCBS and Accuweather.

"When Byton committed to creating the first smart device on wheels, this is exactly the kind of engagement we had in mind," said Dr. Daniel Kirchert, CEO, Byton. "The Byton M-Byte with its unique user experience will offer developers the opportunity to present in-car interactions in a way that is more engaging than ever before."

Byton interior M-Byte screen SUV Photo courtesy of Byton

The deal with ViacomCBS will make the company's content available in the vehicles via the Access Twine for Car system. The screen will deliver a rich video experience to vehicle occupants. ViacomCBS owns significant entertainment brands including BET, CBS Sports, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Bellator, Showtime, and Paramount.

"The future of in-vehicle infotainment is an exciting opportunity to strengthen and extend our connection to our audiences within today's fragmented media environment," says Ray Hopkins, President, U.S. Networks Distribution, ViacomCBS. "We look forward to building upon our relationship with Access and Byton to reimagine the entertainment experience for a new and captive generation of drivers and passengers."

The automotive startup has also partnered with AccuWeather to deliver a connected vehicle experience that goes beyond the usual in-car weather information. Byton and AccuWeather technology will report the weather conditions on demand but also inform users of upcoming changes in weather at their destination.

"Saving lives and protecting property is part of our mission statement at AccuWeather, and the primary reason why AccuWeather has invested in the global connected car industry. By partnering with Byton, AccuWeather can give drivers increased situational awareness, with minute-by-minute precipitation forecasts along their route", said Steven R. Smith, President at AccuWeather.

Byton M-Byte screen interior sunroof Photo courtesy of Byton

At CES this week, Byton also announced partnerships with Aiqudo to leverage their Voice to Action platform that would allow voice commands to allow occupants to interact with apps hands-free via Bluetooth.

"Quick and easy access to our favorite apps is a key to our digital lives. With voice command, thanks to Aiqudo, we make it safer for BYTON M-Byte drivers," noted Andreas Schaaf, CCO, Byton.

An additional contract with CloudCar will enable points-of-interest searches through apps.

"CloudCar is proud to be selected as a key enabling technology partner for the new BYTON digital platform," said Philipp Popov, CEO of CloudCar, Inc. "Combining their unique interaction capabilities with our production-proven infotainment platform that simplifies access to compelling content from numerous providers across multiple content domains will greatly enhance the overall mobility experience for active drivers and their passengers. We are excited for the incredible customer experiences that this combination of technologies will enable."

Byton has previously announced that they will bring a vehicle to market in the U.S., China, and Europe. The Byton SUV is slated to have a price tag of $45,000 and deliveries are expected to start in China later this year.

Byton is headquartered in Nanjing, China and has their R&D facility in Silicon Valley.

Kia Motors has given insight into the company's future product plans.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia is charging ahead with an aggressive electric vehicle (EV) implementation plan that includes 11 new vehicles in the next five years. The strategy, called "Plan S" starts with the company's first dedicated EV in 2021.

Plan S is a dual-focus shift for the company. On one side they will be progressing toward an EV-centric product strategy while in the other hand Kia will be focusing on customized mobility solutions. They will also be focusing on autonomous vehicle development.

By the end of 2025, Kia plans to offer a full line-up of 11 battery electric vehicles. The company is aiming to have 25 percent of its vehicle sales outside of China come from what they call "eco-friendly cars" by 2025 on their way to achieving a 6.6 percent market share in the global EV market (500,000 annual EV sales excluding China). According to a McKinsey & Co. analysis published April, the U.S. EV market almost doubled to 360,000 EV units in 2018, mainly because of the strong sales performance of Tesla's Model 3.

From 2022, Kia plans to add EVs in the passenger vehicles, SUVs, and MPVs categories. They further outlined their electric vehicle development:

The dedicated EV model to be launched 2021 will be built on a unique platform specifically engineered to accommodate the car's world-leading EV powertrain and technologies. It will offer a crossover design which blurs the boundaries between passenger and sport utility vehicles, a future-oriented user experience, a single-charge driving range of over 500 kilometers, and sub-20-minute high-speed charging time.

Across its EV line-up, Kia plans to operate two different types of EVs with different charging capabilities (400V/800V) -- high-performance dedicated models and derivative models with reasonable pricing -- to meet the diverse needs of customers.

Growth in global EV sales will be pursued in accordance with a customized, market-oriented strategy, which considers regional differences in environmental regulation, subsidies, infrastructure and more.

These EVs are expected to first be sold as a trim level option in Kia vehicles in the same vein as the Niro EV and Soul EV.

Additional Kia expansion is planned to come from car-sharing and e-commerce businesses.

"Plan S is a bold and enterprising roadmap for Kia's future business transition, buttressed by the two pillars of electric vehicles and mobility solutions," said Han-woo Park, president and CEO, Kia Motors. "Our approach is to put customers first, and Kia will reinvigorate its brand innovation by developing products and services that offer new experiences for customers."

Easily missed in this plan is Kia's proposition to raise the sales of internal combustion engined vehicles while at the same time establish the development system for EV architecture. Though they say that they'll focus those efforts on emerging markets, it's relatively safe to say that the Soul, Forte, and Telluride aren't going away any time soon.

Kia is activating recent partnerships and company share acquitions to get to this goal. Last year, the Korean automaker invested in Croatian performance EV manufacturer Rimac Automobili and IONITY, which specializes in building high-speed charging infrastructures.

They're also planning on building "Mobility Hubs", transfer stations between electric vehicles and internal combustion engine vehicles. Long term plans call for self-driving robotaxis and on-demand roboshuttles to also populate these Mobility Hubs.

Kia is part of a car-sharing services joint venture with Repsol, Spain's major energy corporation, in Madrid via its WiBLE brand.