Tank Brand Unveils Hi4-T, A Super Hybrid Off-Road Architecture at Shanghai Auto Show 2023

Tank Brand Officially Releases All-new Off-road Hybrid Architecture Hi4-T at 2023 Shanghai Auto Show

Hi4-T stands for Hybrid Intelligent 4WD Tank-exclusive Architecture, which is built upon the Tank platform.

During the auto show, the first mass-produced model under Hi4-T architecture, Tank 500 Hi4-T, was globally pre-sold at a price of 360,000 yuan.

Tank 500 Hi4-T is equipped with a 2.0T+9HAT powertrain, capable of a maximum comprehensive power of 300 kW and maximum comprehensive torque of 750 N·m, accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds.

Tank 500 Hi4-T is also equipped with a P2 electric motor, outputting a maximum power of 120 kW and maximum torque (limited) of 400 N·m.

In terms of endurance, Tank 500 Hi4-T is equipped with a 37.1 kWh battery and a 70L fuel tank, with a pure electric endurance of 110 km and supporting fast charging of up to 50 kW, achieving a comprehensive endurance of 790 km.

When the SOC of pure electric mode drops to 13.5%, it will automatically switch to hybrid mode; when the SOC of hybrid mode drops to 10%, the engine will start automatically. Meanwhile, energy can be recovered through braking and sliding to charge the battery.

In addition, the Tank 400 Hi4-T also made its global debut at the auto show.

The Tank 400 is expected to be officially launched in the third quarter of 2023, with two power versions: fuel and Hi4-T.

In terms of dimensions, the Tank 400 measures 4,985 x 1,960 x 1,905 mm (L x W x H), with a wheelbase of 2,850 mm. The approach and departure angles are 33° and 31° respectively, and the minimum ground clearance is 235 mm.

In terms of power, the fuel version of the Tank 400 is equipped with a 2.0T turbocharged engine, a longitudinal 9-speed automatic transmission, and a 48V mild hybrid system, with a maximum power of 180 kW and a maximum torque of 380 N·m.

The Tank 400 Hi4-T version is built on the Tank off-road super hybrid architecture with a P2 architecture, a comprehensive power of 300 kW, a comprehensive torque of 750 N·m, and an acceleration of 0-100 km/h within 7 seconds. It can also be refueled with 92# gasoline.

In the past two years, the Tank brand has won over 60% of the market share in the tough SUV market, which can be considered a very successful strategic brand for Great Wall Motors.

In the face of the trend of new energy in the industry, Great Wall Motors has also launched two new energy tough SUVs: the 500 Hi4-T and the Tank 400 Hi4-T.

After the press conference, we interviewed Tank brand CEO Liu Yanzhao, Tank brand CTO Ma Haili, Tank 500 Product Director Gu Yukun, and Tank 400 Product Director Zhang Hongtao on the challenges and opportunities of Tank’s new energy transformation, and the following is a summary of the interview.Journalist: Currently, in the new energy market, more and more brands are starting to make off-road vehicles and there will be more and more new energy off-road models. Tank is the earliest brand to make off-road vehicles and has good sales. But with so many outstanding players now, how will we respond? What preparations have been made for the transformation?

Liu Yanzhao: In the viewpoint shared at the recent press conference, the core difference between new energy off-road and off-road new energy is the most crucial. Is it based on new energy to make off-road vehicles, or is it to add electricity to off-road vehicles? At present, the technical route that Tank has found is “off-road + new energy”, that is, based on off-road as the foundation, more deeply integrating the value experience of new energy. The off-road super hybrid architecture Hi4-T unveiled at this auto show is the latest technological achievement we have prepared for “off-road + new energy”.

Some people may ask, why make the last “T” in the logo red? Because the “T” represents the Tank exclusive hybrid architecture. Why must it be a longitudinal architecture? From the perspective of decoupling, the off-road new energy vehicles currently mainly have front motor or rear motor architectures, all of which make room in the middle for batteries. But these cannot meet outdoor scenarios, where you never know if the next pit is water, sand, or mud.

At present, the Hi4-T architecture is the most suitable technical route for the off-road vehicle category at this stage. Because there is a conflict between the battery’s charge and discharge, there is also an issue of how to sustain high-quality motor output. The motor can continue to output for 10-12 seconds, but once it reaches 15 seconds, it will activate the thermal protection, and then in climbing scenarios, it is easy to decay to only 50% of the output power, which can lead to serious accidents.

Aside from motor decay, at present, no new energy brand can achieve rapid energy replenishment in unmanned areas, which is a big problem in the field of off-road traversing. Secondly, Tank also thinks deeply about new energy safety. We arrange the battery above the main beam, so it will not bottom out. Third, considering that fuel is still an effective and fast way to replenish energy, we use it as the basis to meet the needs of off-road scenarios.

Keeping the engine running at a near-optimum thermal efficiency operating range while satisfying the energy consumption and safety demands of off-road traversing is our interpretation of the new energy off-road technical route, that is, the Hi4-T architecture. The Tank 500 Hi4-T and Tank 400 Hi4-T displayed today have this architecture, and the Tank 300 will also be equipped with it, and even the entire Tank series will have a Hi4-T version. Off-road driving is not about bouncing around, it must be based on reliability, and we cannot joke around with users’ lives, so reliability must be guaranteed for off-road driving.Reporter: Mr. Liu, you mentioned the new culture of SUV earlier. Great Wall’s SUV has always had its own characteristics in the past few decades, especially with the introduction of new energy technology this time. In terms of Great Wall’s thinking on new energy SUVs, including the Tank brand, WEY, and other potential brands, can you talk about the differences and features between us and other brands?

Mr. Liu Yanzhao: For example, at Great Wall, we place categories first. The Tank brand is a brand that prioritizes off-road expertise.

And precisely because of our off-road professional attributes, we have some corresponding thoughts about off-road + new energy. From a logic of usage standpoint, when driving in the city, smoothness and economy are most needed. When electricity is added, it becomes particularly valuable. However, when it comes to high-speed or some off-road conditions, the logic of engine direct drive is the most ideal. We hope to provide users with the best product experience using the currently best technology.

In addition, as I have been emphasizing, “reliability,” the Tank brand is responsible to the users. We want to make sure that users can come back safe and sound after going out. Currently, many people do solo cycling trips. If a car has an accident, the consequences will be unimaginable. However, for us making off-road vehicles, it is essential for us to understand off-road conditions. This is a rigorous condition, but it is also the bottom line we follow.

Great Wall has been making cars for 32 years with a steady pace, without considering the capital market. Only after making cars and getting user recognition and receiving payment will we feel a sense of accomplishment.

Reporter: Tank has been on the market for 2 years. How would you evaluate Tank? Unlike ordinary SUVs, its positioning is very clear, focusing on the segmented market. After changes in the market, with the introduction of similar products, how will Tank strengthen its brand? Will there be some new directions?

Mr. Liu Yanzhao: Thank you for your question. Tank sold 230,000 cars in two years and accounted for 60% of the sales in China’s off-road vehicle market. These achievements all came from everyone’s trust in our Tank products. There are three reasons for everyone’s trust. Firstly, our product is closely integrated with users. Secondly, our users have a high sense of identity with Tank culture. Thirdly, the residual value of Tank is still very high in the off-road vehicle category.

Firstly, our product is closely integrated with users. At the Chengdu Auto Show last year, we proposed the technical route of off-road + new energy, and also held many face-to-face activities with users to collect a lot of real feedback. We learned that for ordinary users, they not only want to improve hardcore off-road capability but also want to reduce charging as much as possible. Therefore, we have upgraded the overall technical matching, allowing the Tank 500 Hi4-T to extend its range from 50 kilometers to 110 kilometers when fully charged, breaking the barriers of urban travel, off-road crossings, and outdoor wilderness scenarios, allowing travel without limitation.Secondly, tank drivers have a very strong sense of identification with tank culture. In mid-March this year, we held the first user conference in Zhuhai, where we unveiled the tank user brand. I regretted that the venue we chose was too small, as many ecological partners wanted to participate. The on-site atmosphere was very exciting, with no two tanks being the same. After many media teachers visited, they provided feedback that Tank culture was well-done and that the cultural atmosphere was really created.

Lastly, tanks have a high retention rate. From last year to now, Tank 300 has been performing very well in terms of retention value. According to the “March 2023 Car Retention Rate Report” by the Automotive Circulation Association, the three-year residual value of Tank 300 ranks high among independent brand SUVs for consecutive months. Tank drivers call this “reliable,” and buying a Tank is reliable.

Journalist: We noticed that there are also a lot of overseas media present today. We have always emphasized being born global, can you share with us how our overseas market is doing? What is the layout for globalization in the future?

Liu Yanzhao:

In fact, when the Tank brand was born, it carried the gene of being born global. We can understand this sentence as Tank, in addition to being a professional off-road brand itself, we have a global R&D system and market layout, which are the biggest assistance for Tank’s globalization.

In July last year, Tank 300 went on sale in the Middle East region for the first time, and officially appeared in Australia in December. In March of this year, Tank 500 also started its international journey, with pre-sales at the Bangkok International Auto Show in Thailand. In terms of global off-road vehicle market, Tank brand’s sales have risen to sixth place, with Tank 300 sales ranking third in global off-road vehicle sales.

In the future, we will definitely not be satisfied with this. Tank will build a global user ecosystem based on overseas market planning. We expect to establish 30 overseas clubs this year to cover Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Australia, Russia, and other regions. We will also regularly organize cross-border exchange activities between domestic and overseas user clubs to assist Chinese off-road culture in going global.

Journalist: Why did Tanks use the P2 architecture in off-roading thinking? What are the advantages of this architecture for off-road driving?

Ma Haili:

The most important reason for our selection of P2 electric motors for the Hi4-T architecture this time is that it can retain the four-wheel drive form. This four-wheel-drive system is very reliable and is still able to achieve four-wheel-drive even if there is no electricity. Even with no electricity, the Tank can still use the engine to achieve four-wheel-drive and get out of trouble, which helps Tank drivers out of difficult situations.### Traditional hybrid four-wheel drive structure has the main drawback of short maximum mileage duration, fast power consumption, and insufficient power output in the rear section, although the front section is very powerful. However, our four-wheel drive system can achieve 100% output by adding the entire vehicle’s power to the wheels with the strongest adhesion, helping drivers get out of trouble.

In addition, during off-road activities, situations such as climbing and flying often test the driving system’s impact severely. If a complete motor system is used, its reliability needs to be verified several times. However, our four-wheel drive motor system can access the front motor when needed and not when not needed, so this four-wheel drive form is quite reliable.

Journalist: Sometimes the P2 motor plan is not very willing to use the P2 motor, and when the pure electric motor runs, it also causes the engine to idle. So how about the hybrid plan and logic?

Ma Haili: We have calibrated it many times for both off-road and city road conditions. There are three power modes: pure electric mode, which completely uses the motor system; hybrid mode, with the engine as the main power output requiring significant power, and the motor doing work to assist the engine driving; and intelligent mode, which is based on the user’s vehicle history data and adaptively manages the SOC, analyzing the user’s driving habits, and charging habits, adjusting the rate of electric energy consumption for different user vehicle and charging habits to make the entire vehicle’s electric energy consumption more in line with user driving habits.

Journalist: Tank 400 emphasizes youth and technology this time. I saw that the vehicle appearance has a mecha style, and the interior has a cyberpunk feeling. Can you give more details about the overall design style?

Zhang Hongtao: Tank 400 is a new style off-road SUV launched by the Tank brand for young and emerging groups. During the positioning stage, we communicated with many first-line users. At the same time, we communicated with first-line users when it was launched at the Chengdu Auto Show two years ago.

During the communication process, we discovered that the mecha style was prevalent at the time, and could bring some young people’s likes to this car. Therefore, we drew design inspiration from hardcore equipment such as tank armor and science fiction robots to integrate the styling of the vehicle body, interior, display screen, L2 driving assistance functions, including the underlying software of the vehicle, and third-party ecological connections, keeping the wild style while incorporating an unlimited feeling of technology.

Journalist: In terms of the energy-saving route for oil-powered vehicles, there is still a bit of fuel emotions for off-road enthusiasts. Have you considered addressing the mental differences? Regarding the complex working conditions of off-road vehicles, do we have any new layouts for new energy sources?Ma Haili: For fuel and new energy, tanks will not stumble and lose balance. The Tank 300 and 500 have already ventured out a fuel off-road route. But we are more cautious about the transition to new energy. Since tanks spend more time outdoors and less time in the city, how to ensure safety and reliability for off-road under new energy is a problem we have been thinking about.

Therefore, our “Off-road + New Energy” technology route is to solve this problem. After determining the technology route, we upgraded these technology routes for a year. The battery was upgraded to 37.1 degrees and the pure electric continuous driving mileage was upgraded to 110 kilometers. This is an addition to off-road. The urban energy consumption has decreased, and the off-road performance has almost not decreased. Overall, what we need to do from the customer value perspective now is to “bring the tank into the city” and increase the user’s scenarios.

Reporter: Why does Tank brand choose the “Off-road + New Energy” route?

Ma Haili: The focus of “Off-road + New Energy” is on the plus sign. We have an additional choice if users need to choose between fuel cars and new energy cars.

Take the Tank 500 fuel car as an example. Although we prefer long-distance travel, many users still use it mostly in urban areas. Now adding Hi4-T can solve the problem of high urban energy consumption and retain the poetry and the distance of going out.

Now our Hi4-T has a power support strategy, allowing it to use electricity to off-road in harsh conditions, and the power feeding is also okay. Through the cooperation of the motor, battery, and engine, it allows everyone to play more wild and more comfortably.

Reporter: Will Tank develop EV models in the future? Is there any relevant technical reserve?

Ma Haili: Currently, Tank brand has corresponding technical reserves for multiple new energy routes. But considering the characteristics of the off-road scenario, we will release them gradually when the technology is truly mature.

Reporter: Why is the Hi4-T architecture currently the best solution for “Off-road + New Energy”?

Gu Yukun: Actually, this architecture is more from user demand. The full name of Tank Hi4-T is the Off-road Super Hybrid Architecture, which is first and foremost a hybrid architecture. Through smarter energy management, it can solve economic or energy consumption problems in the city.

Furthermore, customers all want to go out and travel to places where others can’t go. The Hi4-T architecture can provide that. For example, during the May Day holiday, tourist attractions were crowded, but we could take customers to places where others couldn’t go. It can meet my usage needs and take me to poetry and the distant horizon, giving me enough confidence to do what I want, so it is the best choice.Interviewer: I personally have a lot of contact with heavy users, and their main concern is reliability. Today, we have been emphasizing on reliability, and we can only say that it is the optimal choice. So, how do we achieve relative reliability?

Ma Haili: Why is our construction called Hi4-T? There is a difference between Hi4 and Hi4-T. Hi4-T is a new energy exclusive to tanks for off-road use. We have always emphasized that the foundation for off-road new energy is reliability. Because if you want to go off-road, you need peace of mind, safety, and reliability. Whether it’s power, intelligence, or quality, we will provide you with the most reliable experience.

In summary, the core of reliable power is to achieve the best match between energy and power. Power determines strength, and energy determines ability. As a professional off-road brand, Tank’s power system must provide sustainable high-power output to cope with more complex and extreme challenges.

The second is intelligent reliability. Off-road intelligent configuration can scan information in all directions and monitor and feedback information about people, vehicles, and scenarios in real-time to form a fully-perceptive intelligent off-road assistance.

Thirdly, quality reliability. Our car adopts a lightweight high-rigidity body with hydraulic suspension and shock absorber, achieving a deep balance of safety and comfort. When facing complex road conditions, it provides great support and solid guarantees for the whole car’s torsion resistance and durability.

Interviewer: Today, you announced the concept of the first off-road new energy car, but everyone has also seen that there are many players building new energy off-road concepts. What is the biggest difference between our product and the competitors in the current market?

Gu Yukun: We can do what they can’t do. We can meet customers’ travel needs based on off-road, which is unique.

More confident reasons lie in the early user feedback and media feedback. Everyone agrees that the Hi4-T technology not only ensures the hardcore part of off-road but also has the poem and the horizon of new energy. In fact, at the beginning of development, we started from two different technical logics in the fields of off-road new energy, from off-road and new energy, and solved users’ anxiety about new energy through technical specification and continuous testing. Through continuous technical optimization, Tank can safely take you out and bring you home, which is the foundation of the Tank brand.

Great Wall has been in the car industry for 32 years and has accumulated enough reserves in technical benchmarks testing and product iteration in the field of off-road, giving us the confidence in reliable and technical capabilities in off-road scenarios.


This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email bd@42how.com.