- Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD on Monday announced a new technology system to stabilize the cars ride through rough terrain, sharp turns and even shallow water.
- BYD counts Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway as one of its supporters.
- BYD has not addressed the cost of using the company’s new DiSus system, or when it will become widely available.
BYD’s Han electric car, pictured here at the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show, is one of China’s most popular new energy vehicles.
Evelyn Cheng | CNBC
Shenzhen, China — Electric vehicle giant BYD is banking on new driver-assistance technology to make riding easier and gain an edge over its EV rival.
BYD, backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway company, on Monday announced a new technology system to stabilize rides through rough terrain, sharp turns and even shallow water. Shock absorption technology is set to be a feature of the Yangwang premium brand that the company launched recently.
“Traditionally, luxury cars are defined by brand and history. For luxury new energy vehicles, it’s about technology and products,” BYD founder Wang Quanfu said in Mandarin at the launch event Monday, according to CNBC’s translation.
He claimed the technology represented a “breakthrough” that “leads and surpasses the foreign technological level”.
The update comes ahead of the Shanghai Auto Show, which is set to kick off next week, as several Chinese auto companies prepare to announce products and models.
Part of the technology system uses the same lidar sensors used in assisted driving, according to BYD. Lidar, short for “light detection and ranging,” uses lasers to create detailed maps of the surrounding area.
In its release, the automaker said its new “DiSus” system “provides a foundation for future development of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).”
The company has taken a relatively cautious approach to self-driving technology.
When asked about “smart driving” during an investor call in late March, BYD management said that autonomous driving still faces the challenge of determining liability in the event of an accident. However, the department said, advanced assistive driving technology has the potential to improve public safety. This is according to last month’s call recording accessed through the Wind Information database.
The industry as a whole is balancing ambitious driver assistance options with measured safety protocols. Electric car leader Tesla in February recalled more than 360,000 cars through the city’s assisted driving program that it said could cause accidents.
The City Assisted Driving program is not available to Tesla drivers in China.
It wasn’t immediately clear how Tesla’s shock-absorbing capabilities compare to BYD’s, but other automakers in China are looking at similar technology.
In September, Nio Capital’s investment fund led a $39 million round of financing at Boston-based ClearMotion, which develops active comment software.
BYD’s Wang didn’t address how much it would cost to use the company’s new DiSus system, or when it would become widely available.
Two of the compatible car models – Yangwang’s upcoming U8 SUV and Denza N7 SUV – are not yet available for delivery. Car giant Daimler owns a small stake in BYD’s Denza brand.
BYD said some of its existing Han, Tang and Denza models are slated to receive the new technology through an over-the-air upgrade.
The new system comes in three versions—”damping,” “air,” and “hydraulic”—that are set up for individual integration with some BYD models.
Read more about electric cars from the CNBC Pro
In the first quarter, BYD said it sold 264,647 all-electric passenger vehicles, up more than 80% from a year ago. Hybrid passenger car sales doubled year-over-year, to 283,270 in the first quarter.
For its part, Tesla said it delivered more than 422,000 vehicles worldwide in the first quarter, without sharing any territorial details. China typically accounts for more than 20% of Tesla’s revenue.
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