It can float for 30 minutes at 2 mph.
The unfortunately-named YangWang U8 debuted earlier this year, and the large electric SUV has just revealed its biggest party trick - the ability to float on water and paddle away at speeds of 2 mph if you somehow drive it into a lake. Yes, the YangWang U8 can drive on water.
Chinese media appear to be at the launch of the U8, as CarNewsChina loaded several videos of the car's abilities on its YouTube channel. The most interesting is what appears to be called Emergency Floating Mode.
The U8 is obviously well insulated because YangWang claims it can float for 30 minutes, using the four wheels to provide momentum. It can also do a tank turn on the water, using the wheels for propulsion. This is not a recreational feature, however. BYD says it's only for emergencies, and the car is IP68-level waterproof. This rating is usually reserved for smartphones. It indicates what an item can withstand, and the ratings go up to nine. At level eight, like the U8, it's protected against being continually immersed in water for a longer period.
You also can't drive the U8 into a standing body of water on a whim. The Emergency Floating Mode needs to be activated first. In the video, we can see the U8 wading through 1.2-meter water, at which point the wheels lose contact with the bottom. That's 47.2 inches of water, much more than the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon's maximum wading depth of 34 inches.
According to BYD, the U8 must go for a thorough inspection every time this feature is activated.
The U8 rides on an old-school ladder frame, but each of the four wheels is powered by an individual electric motor. Four individual motors allow vehicles to do unique things, though it's rare to see a quad-motor setup in mainstream production. Usually, it's reserved for multi-million dollar hypercars like the Rimac Nevera and Automobili Pininfarina Battista.
This four-motor powertrain enables the U8's 360-degree tank turn function. Hyundai's proposed parking solutions are more elegant, and, as you can see from the state of the parking lot, this feature isn't remotely kind to tires.
While the U8 is an exciting product, we can already spot a few problems. Tank turning is one of those features the world doesn't really need. We've done quite well without it so far. And apart from Tesla, YangWang seems to be the only EV maker obsessed with floating cars.
The general idea is that you'd use it in emergencies like Hurricane Ian, but there's a big difference between storm waters and a standing pool of water. The next level up for IP68 waterproofing is IP69, which is for water being projected at high pressure and temperature. It also doesn't consider currents and debris, and with a maximum floating speed of 1.9 mph, this colossal machine doesn't stand a chance against flood water.
It is a tremendous shock and awe feature, but, alas, nothing more.