The M-Byte features a 49 inch-wide programmable display (Photo: Byton)

Byton has started tests of its Byton M-Byte model on public roads in the Chinese city of Nanjing.

The Chinese electric-vehicle startup said it is on schedule with the M-Byte. It cited its global engineering network, with facilities in Europe, the US and China, as a key factor in the development.

The M-Byte is scheduled to go into series production in the autumn of 2019. Current tests focus on the car's reliability under different circumstances.

The M-Byte is Byton’s first concept car designed for mass production. In January, Byton unveiled the car as a concept for a "premium intelligent electric vehicle" at the CES high-tech trade show in Las Vegas.

The SUV features a 49 inch “shared experience display” that lets driver and front-seat passenger configure the instrument panel and various infotainment options.

Byton is also adding a range of novel human-vehicle interaction technologies, including voice recognition, touch control, gesture control and facial recognition.

The production model will initially have so-called Level 3 autonomy, which means a human driver may occasionally be called upon to take over control of the vehicle.

At a later date, Level 4 autonomy can be added with a software upgrade, Byton said. Level 4 autonomy no longer requires a human driver to be on standby.

-By Arjen Bongard