BYD’s promised premium sub-brand has launched its first vehicle, the Yangwang U8, a rugged-looking SUV in the mould of the Land Rover Defender – but with four electric motors.
Reports from the launch in China today show an upright design with a blingy grille, headlights rather like a Nissan Patrol, squared-off wheel arches with sheet metal blistering, aerodynamic flush door handles, and a chunky D-pillar ahead of the tailgate-mounted spare wheel.
But rather than being mechanically like a Defender it’s more akin to the upcoming all-electric Mercedes-Benz EQG, though at a reported 5300mm it’s longer even than a GLS.
The new Yangwang U8 will reportedly use an in-house four-motor EV system, using four (IP68 sealed) electric motors to drive each wheel directly and a central control unit.
Such a system theoretically gives you much quicker and more precise torque allocation, and even the ability to pull off a 360-degree arc on the spot.
Translated slides from the BYD event state the maximum system output is some 1100hp, which is around 820kW, enabling what appears to be a 0-100km/h potential of about 3 seconds.
It will naturally use one of BYD’s in-house ‘Blade’ batteries, but there’s not much out there regarding range. Thus far the Blade batteries have used LFP chemistry.
BYD did not seem to reveal the car’s interior, but the Yangwang brand is designed to be a luxury offering.
While there was no mention of price at the launch event, it is expected to cost about 1 million yuan ($A213,000), making it a huge step up for BYD.
BYD might be among the most ambitious, but it won’t be the first Chinese automaker to spin off a more upmarket, SUV-focused brand. Great Wall Motor has two: Wey and Tank, while Chery has its Jetour brand.
It’s too early to say if BYD will eventually expand Yangwang beyond China and into right-hand drive markets. BYD in Australia is currently rolling out its mainstream EV range, having started last year with the Atto 3 and bringing the Seal sedan and Dolphin hatch this year.
There are more pictures in the gallery. What do you think?
MORE: BYD teases Yangwang electric SUV