BYD challenges global auto majors with proprietary body control technology

mobility electric vehicles body control suspension air spring yunnian disus byd china EV

BYD showcased the U9, a sports car under its premium Yangwang brand, bouncing up and down with its DiSus electric-powered body control system in Shenzhen on April 10, 2023. Credit: BYD

On Monday, BYD unveiled DiSus (“Yunnian” in Chinese), an electric-powered body control suspension system that it claims is the first comprehensive Chinese solution for vertical vehicle dynamics. Overseas automakers have already mastered a similar technology for their internal combustion vehicles.

The Chinese electric vehicle pioneer plans to scale the technology to various models across its Dynasty and Ocean lineups, as well as premium sub-brands including Yangwang and Denza, as it expands its presence in the luxury car segment.

Why it matters: BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu said that the company’s latest-iteration suspension system is set to “fill the gaps” China has in handling core functional capabilities such as driving dynamics and chassis control (our translation).

  • The system will give the car “a very smooth ride” using intelligent algorithms to adjust to most road conditions and driving situations, Wang told reporters at BYD’s headquarters in Shenzhen.

Fully-active body control: BYD said customers could expect an upgraded experience using the new DiSus system, as it keeps the body level and cabin stable on bumpy roads.

  • The top-end version of the DiSus adjustable suspension system can be raised or lowered by as much as 200 millimeters and includes a hydraulic spring assembly for each wheel in reaction to the road surface.
  • Another variant uses adaptive dampers and air springs to reduce vibrations and keep the ride smooth, and the vehicle’s ride height can be adjusted by 150 mm to help passengers in and out of the car.
  • The system also promises to provide high vertical dynamics capabilities, as body roll during cornering and load changes can be cut down, which the company hopes to use to gain a significant edge in the luxury Chinese consumer segment. 
  • The Chinese name of the system “Yunnian” combines “Yun,” which refers to clouds, and “nian,” which refers to the highest level of carriage in ancient China, reserved only for emperors and concubines. 

AI techniques and algorithms: Having historically provided few details about autonomous driving and in-car software, BYD said the body control technology will use a sensor suite and central processor, making the car adaptable to certain automated driving applications.

  • The equipped vehicle will be able to detect objects and potential road hazards at a distance of up to 150 meters, while algorithms for motion control will allow the suspension to deal with bumps before a wheel even reaches them.
  • BYD will first use the technology in the upcoming U8 off-road vehicle under the Yangwang sub-brand with a price tag of more than RMB 1 million ($150,000), and the Denza N7 crossover set to go on sale later this year.
  • A base version of the system will also be available to owners via over-the-air updates with their high-end versions of the Denza D9 van, the Han sedans, and the Tang crossovers. The company did not give a precise time frame for the update.

Context: Vehicle control technology of this kind is a mature feature in high-end foreign brands and has been almost completely dominated by global suppliers such as German’s Continental, analysts at Chinese brokerage Essence Securities wrote in a research note on Oct. 29 last year.

  • Mercedes-Benz introduced its Magic Body Control system with a road sensing system for road surface detection to its S-Class vehicles in 2013.
  • Ferrari in September 2022 launched a $400,000 crossover equipped with an exclusive, electric-powered active suspension system supplied by Canadian maker Multimatic, Reuters reported.
  • Several Chinese EV makers, including Nio, Li Auto, and Geely’s premium brand Zeekr, have sourced active air suspension systems from global suppliers for luxury offerings priced between RMB 386,000 and RMB 554,000.

READ MORE: BYD’s super-luxury cars: four motors, 360° tank turns, and RMB 1 million-plus price tags

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Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: [email protected] or Twitter: @yushan_shen
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