People love performance. For most of us, performance means being shoved back into our seats when we push down on the accelerator. Ridiculously fast acceleration is what has made the Tesla Model S so popular. It has also made the Tang plug-in hybrid SUV from BYD the best-selling vehicle in its class and best-selling electric vehicle in China.
The Tang — which is named for one of the country’s most prosperous dynasties — has a 205 horsepower 2.0 liter turbo engine and two electric motors. Each is rated at 150 horsepower and they are mounted so one helps turn the front wheels and the other takes care of things at the rear. A 6 speed transmission manages output from the gasoline engine.
Combined, the driver has 505 horsepower and 605 ft-lb of torque on tap. By comparison, a Corvette Z51 leaves the factory with 6.2 liter engine that has 460 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. The Tang can scamper to 62 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds. A Porsche Cayenne SUV outfitted with the Sport Chrono option needs 5.1 seconds to do the same job.
The Tang has a thoroughly modern, contemporary design that has a hint of the Lexus RX series about it. It is priced quite modestly at between $38,200 and $42,500, after all subsidies for “new energy” vehicles available from the Chinese government. On the inside, it offers its owner and passengers luxurious appointments and includes a large touchscreen and infotainment system that comes with a television function. There’s even a built-in air purifier to clean the dirty Chinese air.
BYD markets its large hybrid SUV with the phrase ”542 Technology.” The five stands for acceleration under five seconds, the four stands for four wheel drive, and the two stands is for fuel consumption of just 2 liters per 100 kilometers. Add it all up, and the Tang is not only the best selling car in the BYD lineup, it is one to the best-selling cars in the whole country.
One extra feature is that its 18 kWh lithium-ion-phosphate battery can be used for other things other than just powering the vehicle. When parked, it can be tapped to run appliances like an electric BBQ or microwave oven. At the Shanghai motor show, it wowed the crowds by making popcorn in an electric corn popper. While that may not be exactly what you need your car to do, it does suggest that the Tang could be used as a source of electricity at home during a power outage.