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China-based electric car startup Byton might be best known for its massive 48-inch wraparound digital dashboard screen in its upcoming M-Byte SUV as well as a host of other screens sprinkled throughout the vehicle. Those screens might get all the attention, but they are merely the delivery mechanism or "stage" for what Byton hopes will be a smart device on wheels.

The company announced Sunday ahead of CES, the annual tech trade show in Las Vegas, it will launch a developer program to unlock the kinds of apps that will turn these screens into an interactive and valuable experience for customers.

Jeff Chung, Byton's vp of digital engineering, said the company has known from the outset that it would need to invite partners to "create truly compelling interactions."

Byton has already been working with companies like Access, Accuweather, Aiqudo, CloudCar, Road.Travel, and Xperi to develop apps and services for entertainment, health and ecommerce. The developer program aims to expand that app ecosystem.

Byton has released UX design documentation as well as app development guidelines with the launch of the program.

Byton is starting to amass key partners such as global media giant ViacomCBS  to bring video content as well as information and other services to the eye-popping 48-inch wraparound digital dashboard.

The China-based electric car startup is calling its dashboard screen the “Byton Stage” and the plan to turn it  — along with several other displays — into an interactive experience that delivers everything from entertainment and navigation to health stats and even review powerpoint slides is part of a bigger goal to compete against Tesla.

Byton showed off a production version of the M-Byte on Sunday during a press conference ahead of CES, the annual tech trade show in Las Vegas. The M-Byte, which is expected to go into volume production later this year, will be priced a $45,000, Kirchert said.

The M-Byte, which will be built at Byton’s factory in Nanjing, will be launched China, US, and Europe, within the coming 18 months, according to the company. Byton will begin in China in the second half of 2020, followed by the U.S. The vehicle will come to the first European markets in the first half of 2021.

Byton announced Sunday several partnerships to bring content into the vehicle, including ViacomCBS, Access,  Accuweather, Aiqudo, Cloud Car, Road.Travel and Xperi.


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