Author: Jingtao Wu
Sharpen the sword for twenty years!
On January 5th, Yunding Automotive, a high-end brand under BYD, held an online press conference and officially released the new hardcore off-road SUV U8, the pure electric supercar U9, and its core technology – “Easi-Four”.
At the press conference, the U8 showcased its ability to turn in place, move sideways, and escape from emergency waterlogging. These “skills” subverted the traditional understanding of cars and quickly sparked widespread discussion on social media.
Since Wang Chuanfu braved enormous pressure to acquire Qinchi Automobile and enter the automotive industry in 2003, 20 long years have passed. From being unknown at the beginning, to braving challenges along the way, to becoming a leading player in the industry today, BYD has proved itself with an annual sales volume of 1.868 million vehicles in 2022, demonstrating its “size” in the market.
Through the Yunding brand and the “Easi-Four” technology release, BYD wants to show everyone that, in addition to building a huge scale over the past 20 years, they have also developed a powerful strength, a “force” that belongs to technology.
What is “Easi-Four”?
If you watched yesterday’s press conference, you may have noticed that the main themes were brand, technology, and products. However, the content of the technology section was significantly larger.
The technology that was introduced extensively at the conference is the “Easi-Four”, the first domestically produced four-motor drive technology.
Looking for the prototype of “Easi-Four” technology, it can be traced back to the ET pure electric concept car released by BYD at the Beijing Auto Show in 2004. The design of this model uses four motors to independently drive the four wheels of the vehicle, and the inspiration for this technology comes from the cheetah running at high speed.
However, due to the limitations in battery, electric drive and electronic control technologies, four-wheel motor technology only meets the conditions for mass production and market introduction in 2023.
Different from the traditional driving mode of power generated by the powertrain and then transmitted to the wheels by the transmission system, the “Yi Sifang” technology’s four motors can directly drive the four wheels. After eliminating the traditional transmission mechanism, it can achieve faster response, higher efficiency, and stronger power.
Compared with the power layout of single motor, dual motor, or even three motor in previous new energy vehicle models, the biggest advantage of the “Yi Sifang” four-wheel motor technology is that the four motors can be independently controlled. With the independent vector control technology of the four motors, each of the four wheels can be individually controlled for driving, braking, forward, and reverse.
At the same time, simply relying on the “four-wheel motor” technology is not enough. It requires an electric drive system with stronger perception. Through the deep integration perception of the entire vehicle, the “Yi Sifang” technology can achieve millisecond-level speed independent adjustment of the dynamics of each wheel, thereby better controlling the vehicle’s posture and improving vehicle safety and handling performance.
In terms of specific performance data, the official performance scorecard of this technology was also released at the press conference.
The maximum horsepower of the whole vehicle on the “Yi Sifang” platform will exceed 1100ps, the highest motor speed is 20500rpm, and the peak power of a single motor can reach 220-240kW. The off-road model can achieve a 0-100km/h acceleration in 3 seconds, and the supercar model can reach a 0-100km/h acceleration in 2 seconds. These performance parameters can be described as quite strong.
So, what can “Yi Sifang” do?
After solving the primary question of what “Yi Sifang” is, the second question is what it can do and what specific improvements it can bring to driving.
First of all, it improves safety performance. Due to the “innate” technological limitations, the perception speed and accuracy of road conditions and wheel states in traditional fuel vehicles still have a lot of room for optimization and improvement. This leads to problems such as slow response, low efficiency and power, and low degree of differentiation of the four wheels, which cannot provide higher-level safety protection.
“Yi Sifang” has four motor drive and a stronger perception of the electric drive system as technical support, making new breakthroughs in safety. At the press conference, the official demonstrated two scenarios of improving driving safety redundancy.
The first is a single-tire blowout scenario. After a blowout, the vehicle will adjust the torque of the three remaining wheels controlled by the remaining three electric motors at a frequency of 1000 times per second. Through timely intervention on the driving wheels, the vehicle’s attitude can be stabilized to help the driver stop the vehicle in a stable and controllable state.
Demo video for single-tire blowout scenario:
This technology also has a positive effect on maintaining vehicle stability when each of the four wheels is driving on different road surfaces with different adhesion.
The second is aimed at possible water-related scenarios in off-road environments. The core system protection capability of the U8 reaches IP68 level and has good body and cabin sealing. With the four-wheel independent vector control function, it can obtain emergency water-floating and escape capability, which is a comprehensive guarantee that traditional fuel-powered off-road vehicles are difficult to provide.
Demo video for emergency water-floating and escape scenario:
Another aspect of enhancing the driving experience, thanks to the high-speed and high-power output of the electric motors, combined with the four-wheel drive system, the “Yi Sifang” technology can adapt to the performance needs of various scenarios such as street driving, off-road driving, and racing tracks.
The vehicle has demonstrated its outstanding off-road potential by completing the sand dune climb in the Alxa Grand Canyon, while it can also achieve flexible U-turns on high-adhesion road surfaces such as asphalt.
Demo video of U-turn function:
Thanks to the four-motor drive technology, each wheel can realize independent positive and negative torque output capability. The “Yi Sifang” technology can achieve a stopping distance of less than 40m per 100 kilometers without the brake working. In the case of the steering gear not working, it has agile steering capabilities of less than 12 meters. These are optimized functions for specific scenarios that traditional car models, whether fueled or new energy, do not possess.
“What can Yi Sifang do?” With its unique technological advantages, the Yi Sifang technology platform brings some new driving experiences, and to a certain extent, changes our traditional inherent perception of car driving modes and driving states.
Future Plan of Yi Sifang
After a brief understanding of the technical characteristics, performance advantages, and driving experience improvements of the Yi Sifang technology platform, I believe that everyone is curious about the future plan of this technology platform.
“`At the press conference, Wang Chuanfu, Chairman and President of BYD Company Limited, announced that the “Easy Four” technology will be equipped as standard on all models of the Yuanwang brand.
The first batch of models equipped with this technology are the U8 and U9, two mass-produced models released by the Yuanwang brand at this press conference.
Yuanwang U8 will be the first mass-produced model of the Yuanwang brand, positioning as a million-level new energy rugged off-road model. According to the conference, the U8 is more than 5 meters long, more than 2 meters wide, and driven by four independent motors.
Designed by Wolfgang Josef Egger himself, the appearance is expressed as the Yuanwang brand’s family-style design and named “Time and Space Gate”.
With the help of “Easy Four” technology, the Yuanwang U8 has all the above safety, handling, and off-road performance indicators, and its performance can be said to be well-prepared.
Another model, the Yuanwang U9, appeared as the climax of this press conference. Recently, car brands seem to be very happy to release new cars in the form of surprises. Yuanwang has indeed done a great job in secret work. Many people exclaimed that they could not guess that a supercar model would be released.
The U9 is positioned as a million-level pure electric performance supercar, also equipped with the easy Four power system, and achieves zero to one hundred acceleration in 2 seconds. Although the appearance design also uses the language of “Time and Space Gate”, the discussion on the design of the U9 appearance is very intense online. In terms of performance, Yuanwang stated that the U9 provides a brand new driving experience that can be both on the street and on the track.
With the continuous enrichment of the brand’s product line in the future, the “Easy-4th” technology platform will have a broader space for development, especially in the field of four-motor drive. It is believed that this technology can create more car usage experiences that will refresh our cognition.
A Sword Polished for Twenty Years
At the press conference, BYD stated that the goal of Ingwe brand was built through 20 years of research and development.
If we turn back time to the 2004 Beijing Auto Show, we will find that in addition to the pure electric concept car ET, the hybrid model Hybrid-S was also brought by BYD to that year’s auto show. At that time, BYD had already established a strategic direction of developing pure electric and hybrid vehicles, and has struggled nearly for 20 years to achieve its current impressive results.
During this process, there were controversies, turbulences, and a lot of misunderstandings thrown at the young brand in the history of China’s automobile industry.
Today, standing at a godlike standpoint, we might admire BYD’s visual foresight and strategic determination throughout their development.
But in addition to these “icing on the cake” compliments, how to keep our initial intention and maintain the determination towards future development amid the unknown prospect, external doubts, and continuous challenges may be a crucial area of reflection for many Chinese brands, especially for emerging ones.
Twenty years of polishing a sword, and the 2022 sales performance serves as a demonstration of BYD’s “scale”. The launch of the Ingwe brand and the “Easy-4th” technology platform represents a milestone in BYD’s 20-year technology accumulation.
It can be foreseen that BYD will maintain a strong growth momentum in 2023. In such a big environment, what kind of market feedback will the Ingwe brand, which is the crystallization of BYD’s twenty years of technology, receive? It is worth our attention and anticipation.
This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.