Six months ago I wound up on a plane next to an executive from BYTON, an autonomous vehicle startup targeting the Chinese market.
At the time, I was unfamiliar with the company. But since then, BYTON has appeared more in the press. Most recently, they announced a partnership with Chris Urmson’s Aurora to power the autonomous stack in BYTON vehicles.
BYTON is notable for a few things.
First, the company seems to be a hybrid of China, Europe, and Silicon Valley, with leaders coming from all three locations. I wonder if more startups will be organized that way in the future.
Second, the are raising a ton of money. $200M so far, and they’re rumored to be raising a $400M round right now. Designing and manufacturing cars is capital-intensive.
Third, they are betting big on China’s electric vehicle mandate. The exact number or percent of vehicles that must be electric is a little hard to pin down, but it seems to be on the order of ten percent by 2020. BYTON is presumably hoping that being an electric-first vehicle company will give them an advantage.
Fourth, look at that dash screen.