Chinese battery specialist and automaker BYD has officially announced its latest plug-in vehicle today, a full-size plug-in hybrid SUV which it hopes will join its Qin plug-in hybrid sedan at the top of the Chinese electric vehicle charts in short order.
Enter the BYD Tang, a plug-in hybrid crossover SUV which BYD says will sell for 300,000 Chinese Yuan ($48306 U.S.) before incentives.
According to its brief official release, the BYD Tang is built on BYD’s second-generation DM 2.0 plug-in hybrid platform, and offers a claimed 0-62 mph time of ‘less than 5 seconds,’ all-wheel drive, and an overall fuel economy of less than 2 litres of fuel per 100km (147 MPG).
It follows in the tyre tracks of BYD’s e6 electric urban crossover and the BYD Qin, a plug-in hybrid sedan with a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, a six-speed DCT gearbox, 13 kilowatt-hour LiFe battery pack and a 111 kilowatt electric motor.
While our own experiences with the heavy, unresponsive BYD e6 EV isn’t something we’re keen to repeat any time soon, the e6 is now used in several countries in Taxi Fleets, although isn’t available for private purchase.
The BYD Qin on the other hand is, and given the attention BYD has lavished on it, seems to be attracting some fans in its native China. Despite promising a European launch this year however, we’ve yet to see it in the flesh.
Back to the Tang. With a larger 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine developing 205 horsepower and the same 111 kilowatt electric motor found in the Qin, the Tang should at least make good on its promise of a speedy 0-62 time.
Like BYD’s Qin plug-in hybrid, the BYD Tang takes its name from a famous Chinese dynasty, namely the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD). In power for almost three hundred years, the Tang Dynasty saw some truly amazing technological revolutions for the time, including the world’s first clockwork escapement movement, mechanical wine-serving apparatus, portable gas cylinders made of bamboo and yes, even rudimentary air conditioning.
But while BYD is keen to tout the Tang’s fuel economy, performance figures and historically-inspired name, there’s one thing which will undoubtedly stop the BYD Tang in its tracks outside of China: its appearance.
You see, the BYD Tang is based on the BYD S7 crossover SUV, which is in turn based on its earlier BYD S6 crossover SUV. So far, so good. But like so many other Chinese automakers, BYD often builds cars that are almost carbon copy clones of well-known, non-Chinese cars, and the BYD Tang is no exception.
It’s essentially an all-electric Chinese clone of the Lexus RX crossover SUV. While many automakers have tired (and failed) to ban Chinese automakers from selling cloned versions of their cars around the world, we’re guessing this particular reproduction would have a particularly tough time trying to enter into the European or U.S. markets.
While we’d like to believe the BYD Tang has a promising future outside of China, our past experiences with BYD products leave us a little skeptical, and without any solid range figures or battery pack specifications to go on, we’re a little in the cold.
Later this year BYD says it plans to launch two more plug-in hybrid SUVs for the Chinese market, leveraging generous plug-in incentives to help drive the much-needed plug-in revolution in China. BYD says tho two cars: the BYD Song, a mid-sized SUV; and the BYD Yuan, a compact SUV, will ‘cater to China’s insatiable demand for SUVs,’ and will ‘redefine limitations of current PHEVs and SUVs alike.”
We’ll be watching with interest to see if that happens.
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