- Chinese electric car company BYD on Monday announced a new technology system that stabilizes car rides on rough terrain, sharp turns and shallow water.
- BYD counts Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway as one of its backers.
- BYD did not say what the company’s new DiSus system will cost to use, or when it will become widely available.
BYD’s Han electric car, pictured at the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show, is one of the most popular new energy vehicles in China.
Evelyn Cheng | CNBC
SHENZHEN, China — Electric vehicle giant BYD is banking on new driver-assistance technology to smooth car rides and gain an edge over its EV competition.
BYD, backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, announced on Monday a new technology system that stabilizes car rides through rough terrain, sharp turns and shallow water. The shock absorption technology is set to feature in the company’s recently launched premium brand Yangwang.
“Traditionally, luxury cars are judged by brand and history. For luxury new energy vehicles, it’s a matter of what technology and products,” BYD founder Wang Xuanfu said in Mandarin at a launch event on Monday, according to a CNBC translation.
He said the technology represented a “breakthrough” that would lead and surpass the level of foreign technology.
The update comes ahead of the Shanghai Auto Show where many Chinese car companies will make product and model announcements.
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.
The automaker said in a release that its new “DiSus” system “provides a foundation for the 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 a call with investors in late March, BYD management still faces the challenge of determining liability in the event of an accident involving autonomous driving. However, the administration said, advanced assistive driver technology has the potential to improve overall safety. That’s according to last month’s call filing, accessed through the Air Information Database.
The industry as a whole is working to balance ambitious driver-assistance options with measured safety protocols. EV leader Tesla in February recalled more than 360,000 cars from city streets with assisted-driving software that it said could cause accidents.
Urban Assist driving software is not available for Tesla drivers in China.
It’s not immediately clear how Tesla’s shock absorption capabilities compare to BYD’s, but other car companies in China are looking at similar technology.
In September, Neo’s investment fund Neo Capital led by A $39 million funding round At Boston-based Clearmotion, which develops software for active suspension.
BYD’s Wang did not say what the company’s new devices system will cost to use, or when it will become widely available.
Two compatible car models — Yangwang’s upcoming U8 SUV and Denza N7 SUV — are not yet available for deliveries. Auto giant Daimler has a small stake in BYD’s Denza brand.
BYD said it is set to get some of the new technology in its current Han, Dong and Tenza models.
The new system comes in three versions — “damping,” “air,” and “hydraulic” — that are set up for individual integration with certain BYD models.
Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro
In the first quarter, BYD said it sold 264,647 all-electric passenger cars, up 80% from a year ago. Hybrid passenger vehicle sales more than doubled from a year ago to 283,270 in the first quarter.
Tesla, for its part, said it delivered more than 422,000 cars worldwide in the first quarter. China accounts for more than 20% of Tesla’s revenue in general.