Gone are the days when Chinese cars were regarded as unreliable, unsafe, and mere copies of successful European and American models. These days, many exciting automakers have emerged from the Chinese automotive scene, with BYD leading the charge. With its lineup of interesting models, such as the Yuan Plus, which won the ‘car of the year’ award in New Zealand, and the BYD Seal, the Warren Buffet-backed automaker has focused chiefly on building affordable electric SUVs. However, when BYD unveiled its high-end sub-brand – YangWang – eyebrows were raised.
On January 5th, BYD’s sub-brand unveiled its first two models, the YangWang U8 and the U9 supercar. According to BYD, both models will have a four-motor, all-wheel drive setup and a 1,100 horsepower capacity. The sleek U9 supercar is dazzling, but the U8 electric SUV catches our fancy at Global SUV. Let’s look closer at the YangWang U8, its features, and what we can expect from this Chinese SUV.
A look at the YangWang U8, and you’ll agree it gathers inspiration from the iconic Land Rover Defender. Notwithstanding, the styling is peculiar to the YangWang brand and is not so different from the typical boxy Chinese SUV. The U8 blends its rugged looks with high-end technology and a quad-motor layout.
Based on a ladder-frame architecture, the new EV has a 208-inch length, 2 inches shorter than the outsized Chevy Tahoe. The wheelbase measures 120 inches, and the SUV rides on 20-inch alloy wheels. The illuminated grille, which merges with the LED headlights, has a dot matrix decoration and holds the brand’s badge.
Some standout features include the flush door handles, split LED headlights, and a hexagonal spare wheel cover on the tailgate that opens sideways. Additionally, LiDAR and camera units sit just above the SUV’s windscreen.
When the U8 was unveiled on January 5th, many auto enthusiasts hoped to have a look at the SUV’s interior, but BYD had other plans. The automaker has its cards close to its chest regarding the EVs interior. Luckily, recent spy photos from China hint at what the interior holds.
First, the U8 has three rows, with the second and third rows holding two and three seats, respectively. Also, the spy shots show that the U8’s instrument panel is relatively wide, and there is a D-shaped steering wheel.
Quad-Motor’‘ Yisifang’ Technology ‘Quad-Motor’ Yisifang’ Technology
Although there are few details about the U8’s capabilities, the electric SUV can do mind-blowing things. We know the U8 will be fitted with BYD’s Blade batteries, but the automakers have not revealed its range estimates.
The YangWang U8 will adopt the self-developed ‘Yisifang’ technology for its quad-motor powertrain. The Yisfang technology uses four independent motors and doesn’t rely on the steering wheel to turn. Each motor churns out about 295–322 horses and 236-310 lb-ft of torque. Combined, the U8 has a frightful output of over 1,100 horsepower, allowing it to cruise from rest to 62 mph in 3 seconds flat.
The four-wheel independent motor technology brings advanced torque-vectoring functions that can help drivers in the event of a tire blowout or steering wheel malfunction. BYD claims its electronically controlled four-motor drive system responds 100 times faster than conventional systems.
Crab Mode, 360-Degree Tank Turns, and the SUV Walks on Water
As demonstrated at the launch event, the U8’s four-motor drive system enables it to drive sideways. To achieve this, the front and rear tires on both sides are rotated in opposite directions. This is quite similar to the Hummer EV’s Crabwalk mode.
Additionally, the motors can be driven backward on one side and forward on the other to achieve 360-degree spins or tank turns. Tank turns have been demonstrated by the Rivian R1T and the Mercedes-Benz EQG.
Don’t be fooled by the U8’s bulky appearance; it can walk on water or do something close to that. The U8 is waterproof and has a sealed body. With its floating mode, the SUV has limited amphibious abilities.
According to BYD, the SUV can continue driving at 75 mph even with a flat tire due to its advanced torque vectoring system. The drive modes on this off-road beast include ice, snow, fixed circle, tank turns, and floating water modes.
These features would make any off-road enthusiast smile because they have more control over the vehicle and can wade in water without batting an eyelid.
Pricing and Delivery Details
Although BYD has not announced pricing details for the YangWang U8, the SUV is expected to sell for between $110,300 – $206,800. This is quite ambitious for a Chinese SUV. And if it ever goes on sale outside China, the YangWang U8 will have to compete with similarly-priced SUVs from more established automakers, including the Lamborghini Urus.
The automaker had earlier announced that all models under the new brand would be priced at that range. There are also no details about autonomous driving, battery capacity, and range yet.
The U8 will have its first outing at the 2023 Shanghai Auto Show slated for April, and deliveries in China should begin in the third quarter of 2023.
For now, BYD has not revealed its plans regarding the U8 for the European and American markets. However, it is bound to be exported out of China sometime in the future.