BYD is going upmarket, announcing it will launch a new premium brand in the first quarter of 2023.
The new brand will be known as Yangwang, which translates to “look up”.
In a statement reported by Reuters, Yangwang vehicles will be priced between 800,000 and 1.5 million yuan (A$171,850 to $322,219) – making them the most expensive vehicles produced by BYD – and the brand’s first model will be an off-roader.
As BYD has ceased production of conventional combustion-powered vehicles, Yangwang will offer electrified vehicles – though whether it offers a choice of plug-in hybrid or battery-electric vehicles or just the latter is unclear.
Spy photos published by Chinese media reveal the first Yangwang model to be a bluff, upright SUV in the vein of a Land Rover Defender, Mercedes-Benz G-Class or GWM Tank 300. Like those models, the spare tyre is located on the tailgate.
Unlike those models – or indeed any BYD vehicle – there appears to be a distinctive, dual-cowl-type dashboard with an expansive and seemingly curved portrait-oriented touchscreen.
Chinese outlet Yiche reports the Yangwang SUV will offer quad-motor all-wheel drive, with an electric motor driving each wheel.
The report also makes mention of a tank turn function, like on the Rivian R1T and R1S, as well as a patent BYD has filed for a “floating” mode that can help it wade at greater depths.
Yangwang models’ pricing will put them well above BYD’s current flagship offerings, the Han sedan and Tang crossover.
BYD is enjoying record sales, with volumes tripling in the first 10 months of this year to 1.4 million. That’s despite its discontinuation of combustion vehicle production in March 2022 in favour of an exclusively PHEV and EV line-up.
It wouldn’t be the first Chinese automaker to spin off a more upmarket, SUV-focused brand.
Great Wall Motor has two: Wey for (mostly) crossovers, and Tank for more rugged, body-on-frame SUVs. Models from the latter are expected to launch here next year, albeit with GWM Tank badging.
Chery has its Jetour brand, and is also readying a new, blocky off-roader called the T-1 with particularly Defender-esque styling.
It’s due in 2023, and will offer petrol, hybrid and electric powertrains. It’ll be the first in a range of T-Series vehicles for the Jetour brand.