China EV venture Future Mobility launches Byton brand, eyes U.S., Europe

on Sep8

Carsten Breitfeld, chairman of the board, CEO and co-founder of China’s Future Mobility, in front of a screen with an image of a new Byton vehicle in Shanghai on Thursday. Photo credit: REUTERS

SHANGHAI — Electric-vehicle maker Future Mobility Corp., co-founded by former BMW and Nissan Motor executives, has named its brand “Byton” that it plans to launch in the United States and Europe soon after starting sales at home in 2019.

Future Mobility, which recently raised $200 million from investors including China’s Suning and Fullshare Holdings, is looking to launch three vehicles by 2022. It already has a premium midsize crossover ready to go into the next “serious” phase of development. The company has said sales of the crossover will be launched in China during the fourth quarter of 2019.

“The car is really developed for China, the U.S. and Europe. From the beginning we planned to launch it globally, setting up our sales subsidiaries in the U.S., China and Europe,” Daniel Kirchert, Future Mobility’s president, told Reuters at a media event in Shanghai on Thursday.

“After (January next year) we will start to engage with customers, take orders, and build up our sales organizations.”

Future Mobility is looking to unveil the production-ready version of the first car at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January next year.

Two key features of the Byton vehicle’s interior are a touch pad the size of Apple’s smaller iPad, integrated into the steering wheel, and a massive dashboard screen that nearly stretches the width of the interior. Photo credit: REUTERS

Two key features of the car’s interior are a touch pad the size of Apple’s smaller iPad integrated into the steering wheel, and a massive, 20 cm-tall, 1.25-meter dashboard screen that stretches along the width of the car, the company said.

“Make everything which is possible on your smart phone also possible in the car,” Kirchert said. The company’s goal is to make it easier and fun to drive or be driven with the features, which users can control by touch, gesture and voice.

The company plans to launch two more vehicles — a sedan and a 7-seat multi-purpose vehicle — by 2022.

Future Mobility plans to create a hybrid of the traditional car industry distribution method with a more experimental direct-sale approach using the company’s dedicated sales website, Kirchert and CEO Carsten Breitfeld said.

To cater to customers who want to see the car in person, the company also plans to set up physical showrooms operated by third-party independent sales agents who would work like traditional dealers but work only on a commission basis.

“Sales contact will always be between the customer and us directly,” Kirchert said.

Future Mobility also plans to provide maintenance and repair services through a network of independent agents, although the service process will be managed centrally by the company.

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