China’s BYD shows off SUV that can also float

GENEVA, (Reuters) – China’s BYD on Tuesday showcased its Yangwang U8 at the Geneva car show, a luxury plug-in hybrid SUV capable of floating in the event of accidents involving water.

Weighing in at around 3.5 metric tons, the model can also park sideways like a crab or make a complete turn on the spot thanks to four electric motors, one in each wheel.

The SUV is currently only on sale in China, though BYD is not ruling out exporting it to other markets.

“This vehicle could perhaps be brought to certain European markets with limited distribution, but not necessarily exactly in its current form,” BYD’s marketing manager for France Guillaume Calvar told Reuters.

“But for the moment, we are … testing its appeal,” he added.

BYD said that by end of January it had sold a total of 3,653 of the U8, which is priced from 1.098 million yuan ($152,550) in China, since it started deliveries in November.

The automaker also unveiled the Yangwang U9 sports supercar in China on Sunday and opened pre-orders with a starting price of 1.68 million yuan.

BYD has not yet decided whether it will market its luxury Yangwang brand in Europe, Calvar said. For now, the company is focused on its electric and hybrid BYD range and launching its premium Denza brand.

($1 = 7.1976 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Gilles Guillaume in Geneva and Zoey Zhang in Shanghai Writing by Nick Carey Editing by Mark Potter