BYD, based in Shenzhen, China, is the world’s biggest rechargeable battery manufacturer and has been branching into the automotive sector since 2003. On Tuesday, it took aim at the global market with the official launch of its performance-based Qin PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) sports saloon. The online launch saw all one hundred cars on offer sold in two seconds in what the company believes is an industry record, as 95,000 people visited BYD’s virtual shopping mall.
BYD says the Qin can recharge at any household outlet and its electric power modes can be programmed to operate either automatically or manually. In addition, the Qin has regenerative braking.
Though the specifications may differ for other markets, the Qin on sale in China has a BYD 476ZQA (1.5Ti) 1.5-liter, naturally aspirated, direct turbo fuel injected engine that cranks 151 bhp (113 kW) and 240 Nm (170 ft-lb) of torque. The electric part of the powerplant generates 148 bhp (110 kW) and 250 Nm (184 ft-lb) of torque. Acceleration is 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in a moderate 5.9 seconds, with drivers able to select from EV+ECO, EV+SPORT, HEV+ECO and HEV+SPORT modes.
Since one of the selling points of a plug-in hybrid is its green credentials, BYD says that the Qin burns only 1.6 L/100 km (177 mpg) and that in all-electric mode it has a range of 70 km (44 mi).
The exterior lines aren't so much sporty as sedate, with an interesting take on rear light design in particular. The interior is notable for the 12.1-inch TFT instrument panel and the electronics hooked into a raft of cloud-based services, such as tire pressure monitoring, summoning roadside assistance, sending messages, managing the car’s systems using a smartphone app, car location, and “cloud keys” for keyless entry. But you might want to hold onto your key because you can use it to drive the Qin remotely at low speeds for party tricks like summoning your car in bad weather.
The Qin goes for €23,725 to €26,225 (US$32,000 to $35,000), depending on electric vehicle subsidies. BYD says that a car similar to the Qin, though under a different name, will go on sale in Europe in early 2015.