Meet "BYTON Place"
BYTON took another big step to legitimacy today as they celebrated the grand opening of the first "BYTON Place" retail store in Shanghai, China. This announcement comes off the mobility startup's successful appearance at CES a couple of weeks ago in Las Vegas, where they were one of the highlights of the automotive sector.
The Shanghai location will then be followed by the second BYTON Place, which is scheduled to open mid-2019 in Chongqing. BYTON is planning to have 25 to 30 retail locations open in China by the end of 2019, when they launch their first offering, the M-Byte SUV.
The opening of BYTON Place in Shanghai is another milestone for BYTON,” said Dr. Carsten Breitfeld, CEO and co-founder of BYTON. “This is a crucial addition as we now have product development, plant construction, as well as our sales and service models in full swing to achieve on-schedule deliveries of our first production vehicle, the BYTON M-Byte.
A hybrid direct-sales approach to bridge the gap with customers
BYTON is adopting a hybrid direct-sales approach, that they claim maximizes value for their customers. It combines a full suite of online channels with offline channels including BYTON Places, Full Function BYTON Places, and BYTON Service Centers. Full Function BYTON Places will provide a comprehensive range of services including pre-sales, sales, delivery, and after-sales, while Service Centers will exclusively handle vehicle delivery and after-sales. While this doesn't sound exactly like Tesla's strategy, there are definitely enough similarities to draw the comparison.
BYTON states that they will also have BYTON Partner stores, to expand their brick-and-mortar sales and service network. These partners will use their own infrastructure and personnel to provide the same consumer experience as in the direct-sales stores. BYTON will use consistent pricing across China and will be the sole, direct contracting party for customers. It's unclear who BYTON is targeting to be partners, or if this partnership model will also be used in the US and Europe. Since BYTON is marketing themselves as a mobility provider, and their vehicles as "the next generation smart device," perhaps they will approach potential partners like Best Buy, instead of traditional automotive brands.
BYTON Place Shanghai is our first offline space to connect with our customers,” said Dr. Daniel Kirchert, President and co-founder of BYTON. “It kicks off the official building of our hybrid sales model that combines direct-sales store with BYTON (Retail) Partner store and is part of our effort to put the customer at the center of everything.
BYTON Place connects people to a smarter lifestyle and warms to technology
Unlike traditional dealership models that focus on product display and sales, BYTON Place is designed to connect customers to the BYTON lifestyle and be a nexus of the latest high-end technologies. Customers can immerse themselves in the innovative UI and experience firsthand BYTON’s intuitive and convenient multi-dimensional human-machine interface through AR, VR, and Shared Experience Display simulators. Guests can speak face-to-face with the management, engineers, and designers at BYTON. -Press Release
BYTON's hybrid sales approach includes not only direct sales from their website, BYTON Places and Partner stores, but also from their smartphone apps (Apple app) (Android app). The app has BYTON news and insights, allows potential customers to reserve a BYTON (no money down) and even offers basic configuration functionality for things like exterior color, interior and wheel options.
BYTON will introduce the production M-Byte in June, and claims they are on schedule to begin "mass production" before year's end. Initial deliveries will be limited to China, with US deliveries beginning in Q3 of 2020, and European deliveries shortly thereafter. The M-Byte SUV will come standard with a 71 (usable) kWh battery, which BYTON estimates will have a 250-mile range, and command a starting list price of $45,000. A 95 kWh battery option will also be available, provide up to 323 miles of range. Pricing on the larger battery option has yet to be announced.