The BYD Yǎngwàng U8 has attracted a lot of attention as it integrates BYD’s most advanced technologies. While it might lack some of the distinctive features of emerging brands in terms of precise positioning, it excels in terms of cost-effectiveness.
The basic configuration of the U8 is quite rich, with a price of 1.1 million RMB for the fully equipped version, without any optional extras. It is expected that a standard version will be launched in the future with a price around 800,000 RMB. In addition to the basic configuration, the U8 also offers some unique features, such as the off-road version’s ability to equip a rooftop drone platform, satellite phone, infrared night vision, etc., but these features raise the vehicle height to 2.3 meters.
In terms of cost-effectiveness, compared to the Ideal L9 with a price of nearly 500,000 RMB, the U8 has more advantages. It features a 5-degree higher voltage battery, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine upgraded to four top-tier electric motors, accelerates to 100 km/h in less than 3 seconds, hydraulic active suspension, a one-ton increase in vehicle weight, and better overall sealing and collision performance. Additionally, the U8 has some unique off-road features such as turning and water-crossing capabilities, as well as features like greasy interior finishes and a Denon sound system. It includes more advanced driver-assistance hardware (camera count doubled, laser radar tripled), and is equipped with NVIDIA chips.
The U8’s other detailed configurations are also noteworthy, including an in-car refrigerator, rear screens, three wireless chargers, higher-power in-car and external discharge systems, electric suction doors, fragrance systems, PM2.5 filters, and streaming rearview mirrors, among others.
Overall, the U8 almost has the most top-tier configurations among other joint venture brands, which could cost over 50,000 RMB if purchased separately. In the era of technological parity, the U8’s cost-effectiveness is undoubtedly well demonstrated.
However, there are currently some complaints about the service experience of the U8, even falling short of emerging brands. In terms of hardware configuration, the U8 is undoubtedly more powerful than the L9, nearly filled with various technologies and luxury features. Compared to the 2 million RMB Range Rover, its functionality and luxury are not lacking.
The only criticism is that the interior design still feels somewhat outdated and doesn’t match the sleek exterior. In the future, the U8 is sure to introduce versions with reduced technology priced at 500,000 and 700,000 RMB.
BYD’s “Yì 4 Fāng” technology, the independent control system for four motors, is expected to dominate the market for at least three years. At present, it seems difficult to shrink the weight and volume of this technology, so it’s hard to see it in models of other brands in the short term.
The official release of the U9 supercar may require a breakthrough in solid-state batteries, otherwise its range may be unsatisfactory. Currently, the U8 has already reached the limit of BYD’s top battery technology, but the weight is still too heavy and the energy density is insufficient. Therefore, the estimated range of the 50-degree battery is only about 150 kilometers. This compromise was made to accommodate the high-power motors.
To address this issue, the electric version of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class has added two gear mechanisms to each motor, but recent reports suggest there are issues with this technology direction.
In terms of appearance, the design of the U8 is indeed controversial. Aside from being unattractive, there are concerns about the quality of its intelligent software and services.
This unattractive feel is mainly due to the influence of Audi on the designers, possibly demanding a Chinese aesthetic, resulting in a visual mismatch in the design. Various details of the vehicle also give a sense of cheapness. Compared to upscale models like Rolls-Royce or Lamborghini, it’s clear at a glance that they are not in the same league. The U9 has made some improvements compared to the U8, but the U8’s design is already set, and it’s too late to change. The interior also exudes a greasy “old money” feeling, clearly targeting consumers over 50, but the actual buyers are much younger than expected.
Furthermore, the U8 adopts a bulky structure with a longitudinal engine and four independent electric motors, resulting in a very high front compartment and a challenging design. But overall, I personally think the initial design direction had significant issues and lacked a clear theme.
It’s understood that the prototype of the U8 was tested starting in 2017, and verification of its four-wheel independent acceleration ability and stability is still ongoing. The vehicle weighs 3.5 tons, and it’s said that a lot of effort was put into water buoyancy and sound insulation. According to the published data, the estimated electricity consumption is about 30 kWh per 100 kilometers, while the fuel consumption is 12 liters. At least it still uses 92-octane gasoline.
Further observation is needed for the hydraulic suspension. From patents, this suspension system is very complex, and the positioning of the fuel tank might have poor collision economics. Of course, considering the price, most people wouldn’t consider these details.
In terms of advanced driving assistance, BYD adopts a three-tier strategy: using NVIDIA hardware and Moment Magician Tower’s autonomous driving solution for high-end, Horizon for mid-range, and DJI for low-end. The high-end solution is a complete set of NVIDIA, including in-car hardware, aimed at achieving all-around control. Therefore, the development difficulty and ease of use of the in-car system is certainly not as good as Qualcomm’s. Regarding autonomous driving, the supplier initially focused on L4-level solutions, which is also adopted by Xpeng. BYD and the supplier jointly established a company, but it has not yet been implemented, making predictions difficult. Gradual realization of OTA updates is expected as the number of vehicles increases and data accumulates. Recently, BYD also announced its own plan for heavy perception-assisted driving.
The Yǎngwàng uses a complete set of NVIDIA technology and might become BYD’s first fully OTA model (including in-car systems, advanced driving assistance, and chassis). The in-car hardware performance ceiling is higher than Qualcomm’s, but development difficulty, ease of use, and power consumption are not as good. I personally have not purchased a BYD vehicle, so I cannot evaluate its software aspect, and I can only wait for evaluations after the actual release. It is said that Yǎngwàng has brought in many mobile phone developers, so there are still many unknown factors. Overall, I am cautiously optimistic.