If you’re shopping for a SUV but want more than “just enough” horsepower, your options are plentiful, but expensive. The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 starts at about $55,000, and German-made examples like the Mercedes ML63 AMG can run upwards of $100,000. But the BYD Tang 542 could sell for as little as $35,000 in its native China, reports Car News China, while offering 505 horsepower and fuel economy that would make even Prius owners envious.
Making its official world debut, the BYD Tang 542 stands for acceleration under 5 seconds, 4-wheel drive, and fuel consumption of about 2-liters per 100 km. Thus, 542, with the official specs giving the drivetrain 505 horsepower and 530 lb-ft of torque. Most of that comes from a pair of 150 horsepower electric motors (one on each axle), with a 205 horsepower 2.0 liter turbo also contributing. BYD claims an all-electric driving range of 50 miles per charge, and that 2-liters per 100 km works out to about 117 MPG. But the real draw here will be the price.
Marketed at an aggressive $48,000 off the dealership lot, local and national incentives could bring the price down to just $35,000 in many parts of China. That is about half what the Tesla Model X will cost, the closest rival to the Tang 542, and also rivals many short-range electric cars as well. However, BYD also plans to offer a tricked-out version of the Tang with acceleration from 0 to 60 MPH of just 4.4 seconds and a $100,000 price tag. While not nearly as fast as the Tesla P85D, it’ll still outpace most of its big-bodied competition.
But will the BYD Tang 542 ever make it to American shores? Even with Warren Buffett’s sizable investment, the Chinese automaker has only just started to capitalize on a recent push for plug-in cars from the national government. Plans to start sales in America have already had several false starts, and BYD appears more focused on its home market, at least for passenger cars. BYD does plan to move into the U.S. this year though, and in 2014 it finally began production and sales of its electric buses.
If BYD did come to America with the Tang 542 though, it would be a welcome addition in a sparse market segment. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has already proven that there’s a market for plug-in hybrid SUVs, and the first automaker to bring a well-built vehicle to America will pretty much have the segment to itself. But it won’t be that way for much longer.