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.

Volvo Valet delivers a luxury level experience for owners.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

Volvo owners can now have their cars serviced without having to come face-to-face with another human. The automaker has debuted its new Volvo Valet service in the U.S., offering owners the opportunity to use their smartphone to schedule maintenance.

Users download the Volvo Valet app (available for iOS or Android) to schedule their service appointment as well as a preferred pickup time. A retailer employee will then pick up the customer's car and drop off a loaner vehicle for use while maintenance is being performed.

Through the Volvo Valet app the customer can see where their driver is and when they will arrive tracking their moves like you can in the Uber app. After handoff, the owner can receive a notification when their car has arrived at the dealership. The customer is notified the moment their car is ready to be picked up then, the retailer will contact the customer to arrange a time to return their Volvo and pick up the loaner vehicle.

Volvo Valet app The Volvo Valet app allows for vehicle maintenance to be conducted without the hassle of heading to a dealership.Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

To ensure a fully transparent process retailer employees are asked to photograph the condition of both cars at the point of handoff.

"Volvo Valet gives owners the flexibility to service and maintain their vehicles in a way that works best for them," said Anders Gustafsson, Senior Vice President Americas and President and CEO, Volvo Car USA. "Volvo Valet has been very successful in pilot testing over the last year and it is now ready to serve our customers and retailers in this unprecedented time."

Owners can also choose to schedule this service over the phone with their local dealership.

Volvo vehicles of any age are eligible for this service, at the discretion of individual retailers. To check if an individual retailer is participating in the program, customers can contact their service department until an online functionality is added this spring. Retail locations can be found at www.volvocars.com

All service performed via Volvo Valet is eligible for the Service by Volvo benefits provided to all Volvo car owners: Volvo Tow for Life offers owners free towing to a Volvo retailer within a 25-mile radius for the life of the car when work is performed there. Volvo Lifetime Replacement Parts and Labor Warranty covers genuine Volvo parts installed by a Volvo retailer for out-of-warranty repairs for as long as they own the car—pay once and never again.

While currently applicable only to maintenance and service, Volvo Valet will be expanded to include lease and purchase deliveries, lease returns, and overnight test drives later in 2020.

Volkswagen has worked with Panasonic and Fender to offer premium audio systems in their vehicles since 2011.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

You think about the price, number of seats, cargo space, fuel efficiency, and drivability. Then, somewhere down in the lower half of the list of considerations, for the average consumer, is the setup of the vehicle's sound system.

Volkswagen, like many other automakers, has teamed up with audio system companies to engineer sound solutions that provide high-quality sound in their vehicles.

In 2011, the first Fender Premium Audio System debuted in the Beetle, Passat, and Jetta GLI. It delivered 400 watts of sound from eight speakers. Panasonic sound systems were added to the mix in 2015 delivering a concert-quality experience and since then, the company has offered available premium audio equipment on most of its model.

With that system, "we're able to put concert-quality sound inside a vehicle," said Tom Dunn, Director of Global Audio Solutions at Panasonic. "The emotion of a live performance is something we were all familiar with, but it was not something anyone expected to feel while driving their car."

Volkswagen's Atlas, introduced for the 2018 model year, presented unique acoustic challenges because of its size.

"The Atlas has three rows and seven seats, which gives the vehicle a large cabin space," said David Ernst, Panasonic's Senior Acoustics Engineer. "The Atlas Cross Sport has two rows and five seats, so we had to pare down the design of the Fender Premium Audio System for the smaller model without taking away any of the quality."

When VW decided to add the Atlas Cross Sport to its lineup, the move wasn't as simple as lowering the roofline and updating the grille.

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Lowering the roofline as part of the creation of the Atlas Cross Sport presented unique challenges for Volkswagen and Fender engineers.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

According to Volkswagen, "To adapt the original Atlas audio system for the size of the Atlas Cross Sport, Ernst and his team tested the system with focus groups and people at events and concerts. The team even had musical artists sit in the Atlas Cross Sport and listen to their own music on the system to see how well it matched in quality and expectation."

"We did a lot of fine-tuning to make sure the product would be perfect for passengers, wherever they sat inside the vehicle," Ernst said.

The Atlas Cross Sport ended up with a 12-speaker Fender Premium Audio System. It has a 80-mm front-center channel speaker, two 200-mm dual voice coil woofers in the front doors, four 60-mm soft dome tweeters in the first- and second-rows, two 168-mm speakers in the rear doors, and two 80-mm wide frequency speakers in the D-pillar. A 168-mm subwoofer sits in a 12-liter enclosure in the back. All told, the system delivers 480 watts of power.

After spending months optimizing the Atlas Cross Sport, Ernst says he's proud of the "concert feeling" passengers have when listening to the final product.

"This partnership is not just about the hardware of the audio system," said Dunn. "It's an opportunity to connect with customers on an emotional level. And Volkswagen has always recognized the importance of this connection."