Denza, a luxury car subsidiary of Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD, released its first SUV model N7 on Monday, priced from RMB 301,800 ($41,705). The company said it has received more than 24,000 pre-orders since its public unveiling on April 18.
The N7 is also the first model equipped with BYD’s assisted driving technology and will be capable of navigating on complex urban roads in China early next year, general manager Zhao Chaojiang said during the press conference.
Why it matters: BYD’s latest launch shows its intention to elevate the brand and secure a foothold in the premium market. The budget-friendly automaker is hoping its sub-brand Denza will become a luxury marque, and the launch of the N7 is a crucial step towards achieving this goal.
- The N7 will also be seen as a test of the company’s aspirations and its ability to beat rivals like Tesla, Huawei, and Xpeng when it comes to autonomous driving features.
Intelligent driving: The top-end version of the N7 features a hardware suite of 33 high-precision sensors, including two 8-megapixel cameras and two lidar sensors, and is powered by Nvidia’s Drive Orin processor which offers 254 trillion operations per second (or TOPS). By comparison, Xpeng’s G6 features 31 sensors and Nvidia’s dual Orin chips.
- Denza also revealed that its advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) will cost RMB 23,000. It will allow cars to change lanes, speed up, and slow down on Chinese highways when it is updated in the last three months of this year and on city streets by next March.
- By comparison, Huawei-backed Aito and Avatr last week cut the price of their similar offerings in half to RMB 18,000. Both will roll out their assisted driving tech for urban scenarios in 45 cities by year-end, according to Richard Yu, head of Huawei’s consumer business group.
Other details: The N7 has a driving range of 702 kilometers (436 miles) and can be refueled with an additional 350 km of range in 15 minutes by BYD’s proprietary dual charging technology. For comparison, Xpeng’s G6 can travel 300 km on a 10-minute charge.
- The five-seater battery electric crossover is also among several new BYD models to adopt the company’s body control suspension system DiSus for a smooth ride on bumpy roads, with Zhao on Monday claiming the function can eliminate car sickness.
- Zhao also told Chinese reporters that around a third of the N7 reservations were from existing owners of German brands such as BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. Delivery of the vehicle is scheduled to begin later this month and the company expects monthly deliveries to reach 10,000 units as early as October.
Context: BYD and partner Daimler first unveiled the Denza brand in early 2012 two years after the set-up of a joint venture to develop EVs for Chinese consumers. Denza in late 2019 began selling the X, a seven-seater SUV with a starting price of RMB 289,800, which was discontinued two years later.
- In late 2021, BYD announced plans to restructure Denza as the company reached a deal to buy an additional 40% shares of the JV from its German partner, Reuters reported. Last August, Denza launched the D9 multi-purpose vehicle, its first model after the rebranding, with a starting price of RMB 329,800, and posted deliveries of nearly 80,000 units as of writing.
- China’s biggest EV maker has been aggressively entering the high-end market with a growing portfolio of luxury brands including Denza, Yangwang, and an upcoming sub-brand called Fang Cheng Bao. The first two models under the Yangwang brand were priced from RMB 1 million; Fang Cheng Bao will specialize in professional and personalized identities, according to the company.