A Chinese EV maker just revealed a 1,300 horsepower supercar

 Published Feb. 27, 2024 6:24 p.m. EST  By Peter Valdes-Dapena

A rear view of the BYD Yangwang U9 electric car in Shenzhen, China, earlier this year. (Qilai Shen / Bloomberg / Getty Images via CNN Newsource)A rear view of the BYD Yangwang U9 electric car in Shenzhen, China, earlier this year. (Qilai Shen / Bloomberg / Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

BYD is a Chinese carmaker that recently unseated Tesla as the world’s leading seller of electric vehicles. Its new all-electric Yangwang U9 has nearly 1,300 horsepower and is designed to compete directly with Lamborghini and Ferrari.

The company says the Yangwang U9 has four electric motors and, with all-wheel-drive, can reach more than 60 miles an hour (97 kilometres an hour) in just 2.3 seconds. It’s priced at 1.68 million Chinese yuan, or about US$230,000 US dollars. That price is similar to relatively entry level supercars, such as a base model Lamborghini Huracán with its 631 horsepower gasoline-powered V10.

As an electric supercar, the Yangwang U9 combines power and performance similar to a 1,800-horsepower, US$2 million Rimac Nevera, but in a package costing less than gasoline-powered cars from the famous Italian automakers.

BYD is best known for more mainstream cars and SUVs like the Dolphin SUV that costs the equivalent of about US$38,000 in Europe or the roughly US$57,000 Seal sedan. The company is already causing concern among European automakers because of its ability to produce electric vehicles at lower prices than its American and European competitors, which are struggling to keep costs down.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has said that Chinese EV makers like BYD could “demolish” other automakers as the industry transitions to electric vehicles.

A BYD Co. Yangwang U9 electric vehicle in Shenzhen, China, on January 16. (Qilai Shen / Bloomberg / Getty Images via CNN )

“I agree with Elon on the fact that the Chinese are the major threat right now,” Carlos Tavares, the CEO of Jeep and Fiat maker Stellantis said at a recent meeting with journalists in New York, “because they’re the only guys that can sell the [electric vehicles] at the price of [internal combustion vehicles.]”

The Yangwang U9 shows BYD’s ability to expand its market, not only among family sedans and SUVs but in the low-volume, high-priced realm of exotic supercars where brands like Volkswagen Group’s Lamborghini have been earning record sales and profits in recent years.

Of course, there’s much more to the supercar experience than just raw acceleration. Lamborghini chief executive Stephan Winkelmann has long contended that today’s electric vehicle technology cannot provide the sort of driving experience supercar buyers are looking for, because of the heavy batteries required. Lamborghini has unveiled an electric car of its own, the Lanzador, but it’s a relatively large four-door model designed to better accommodate the needed batteries.

Besides its speed, the Yangwang U9 also has a sophisticated body control system that can raise the vehicle by three inches at any wheel. As with other high-priced supercars, the body is made from lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum. Its top speed is 192 miles per hour (309 kilometres per hour), according to BYD.

CNN’s Shawn Deng contributed to this report