Chinese automaker BYD unveils the first two models from its new Yangwang premium electric brand, saying they will compete against models from traditional luxury vehicle makers such as Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, with prices set to start at about 1million yuan ($145,000) when sales begin in China later this year.
The Shenzhen-based company introduces the U8, a rugged off-roader in the mold of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, and the U9, a low-slung Audi R8-rivaling coupe.
The two battery-electric models form an integral part of BYD’s efforts to broaden its scope and become a global automaker with offerings in all segments, after record-breaking sales for BYD in the Chinese market over the past 12 months.
In 2022, BYD became the world’s leading maker of electrified cars, including all-electric and plug-in hybrids, with sales totaling 1.8 million units.
BYD chief executive Wang Chuanfu says the new Yangwang brand “will reshape the contours of the global luxury car market” before revealing BYD’s sales target of 4 million cars in 2023.
Both the U8 and U9 (pictured, below) have proprietary lithium-ion phosphate (LFP) batteries, developed by BYD.
Details of the capacity of the battery and projected vehicle range have not yet been disclosed, though Chuanfu tells the media both will be set new standards in the luxury class.
The styling of the initial Yangwang models has been overseen by BYD’s head of design, Wolfgang Egger. The former Alfa Romeo and Audi design boss joined BYD in 2016. He has been instrumental in shaping the styling of the Chinese automaker’s models.
The U8 and U9 boast what Egger describes as BYD’s “Gate of Time and Space” design lineage, which is reserved specifically for Yangwang-branded models, he says.
At 208.7 ins. (5,301 mm) long, the upright U8 is 19.0 ins. (483 mm) longer than existing G-Class. The Yangwang model also rides on a wheelbase that is 6.3 ins. (160 mm) longer than the long-running Mercedes-Benz model, at a claimed 120.1 ins. (3,051 mm).
At its unveiling in China, BYD confirms the U8 will come as standard with 20-in. wheels shod with 275/60 R20 tires.
The U8 is based on a newly developed ladder frame chassis and is powered by four individual electric motors in a drivetrain layout mirroring that of the upcoming Mercedes-Benz EQG.
BYD says each individual motor develops between 220 and 240 kW (295 and 321 hp) and a maximum torque of between 320 and 420 Nm (235 and 309 lb.-ft.). An electronically controlled 4-wheel drive system provides an individual apportioning of drive to each wheel, allowing the U8 to perform tank turns in similar fashion to those displayed recently by Mercedes-Benz with a prototype of its EQG.
Full specifications will not be released until closer to the U8’s introduction, though BYD says it will boast more than 1,100 hp and a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of “less than 3.0 seconds.”
Other features revealed by BYD include a tire-pressure-control system that allows the U8 to continue driving at speeds up to 80 mph (129 km/h) with a flat tire.
BYD has been less forthcoming with details of the U9, though it does confirm the 4-wheel-drive sports car also will receive four individual electric motors in a drivetrain layout claimed to provide it with a 0-62 mph time of “less than 2.0 seconds.”