From China, a $155,000 Electric Luxury SUV with an Emergency Flotation Feature

Chinese EV automaker BYD has an upscale brand called Yangwang (“looking up”). They’ve unveiled this Yangwang U8, a luxury SUV available as a plug-in hybrid or pure electric:

I’m surprised by how rational, ordered, and clean the design is. While the company doesn’t have the track record of a Range Rover, Lincoln or Mercedes, and there are a few tacky design details, overall this vehicle looks like it can compete on the world stage.

The vehicle’s website is all in Chinese, and I wasn’t able to learn much through machine translation, but these tidbits were clear: The 4WD vehicle makes 1,200 horsepower and has a blistering 3.6-second 0-100 km/h time. Furthermore they offer lifetime free maintenance, including door-to-door pickup and delivery.

The U8 has one rather astonishing feature, designed specifically for flood emergencies. If the vehicle is driven into a certain amount of water—as during a flash flood—it goes into “emergency flotation mode.” In this mode, the windows automatically close, while the sunroof automatically opens, to provide an escape route. Furthermore, the vehicle—while floating—can actually be steered and move under its own power, at a speed of 3 km/h, the company says, just by spinning the wheels. They also say the vehicle can keep water out of the interior for up to 30 minutes.

Here’s an unnarrated demo:

To be clear, this isn’t a recreational feature, but an emergency one. BYD says that after such an event occurs, the vehicle must be taken to the dealer for inspection.

Lastly, BYD says the vehicle can make “tank turns,” i.e. zero-turns, but the video of this in action is a bit suspect.

The U8’s price tag starts at 1.1 million yuan (USD $155,000).

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