Las Vegas - A Chinese startup has unveiled its vision for the car of the future, promising to deliver an "intuitive and intelligent" car to global markets starting in 2019 from around $45,000 (R558 000).
The electric-powered concept car shown by Byton at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is touted as a computing device on wheels, equipped with a "digital" lounge featuring a panoramic display acting as a hub for navigation, entertainment and even monitoring the health of its occupants.
Backed by more than $200 million (R2.48 billion) from investors including Chinese tech giant Tencent, Byton - the name was chosen to suggest "bytes on wheels" - is among the latest entrants to a crowded field of startups and established players looking to emulate Tesla in the race for a new kind of vehicle that can be adapted for autonomous driving.
Daniel Kirchert, president and co-founder of the Nanjing-based startup, said: "This is a product tailor-made for the future, which is autonomous and shared."
Byton is led by former executives from Tesla, BMW, Apple and Google, and expects to launch in China by 2019 and in the United States and Europe by 2020.
Chairman and chief executive Carsten Breitfeld, a former BMW executive, said in his presentation during one of the first media events at the huge electronics show: "This will be the most advanced vehicle in the market as of 2019."
The Byton car will use facial recognition to unlock and adapt to the driver and offer a range of other ways to interact including voice control with Amazon Alexa, touch and gesture.
It will include 5G connectivity to the internet cloud and improve its functions with artificial intelligence.
"The more it knows you," said Kirchert, "the more it will improve your experience."
While other concept electric cars have been promoted at prices of $100 000 (R1.24 million) or more, the new Byton will face competition from the Tesla Model 3 and offerings from major automakers.
Byton said the car will have a range of more than 500km before needing a recharge and will be able to "top up" its battery in 15-30 minutes.
It added that it would be offered with "Level 3" autonomy, which enables some functions without a driver, and be capable of "Level 4" for near-autonomous function, from 2020.