China's BYD Debuts Lexus RX-Inspired S6DM Dual-Mode Hybrid at Detroit Motor Show

Chinese automaker BYD marked its fourth consecutive appearance at the North American International Auto Show with the world premiere of the S6DM hybrid, with the DM in the name standing for "Dual-Mode".

The gasoline-electric hybrid is based on the Chinese firm's S6, a mid-size SUV model first introduced at the Shanghai Auto Show in 2009. And no, you're not the only one to find the overall styling of the S6 reminiscent of the previous generation Lexus RX.

The Warren Buffett-backed battery and car maker claims the S6DM is "the world’s first independent 4WD dual-mode electric SUV". Under the hood, the Chinese model is equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and three electric motors. Two 10-kilowatt electric motors drive the front wheels while a more potent 75 kilowatt motor powers the rear wheels. A six six-speed dual clutch transmission handles power transfer.

Despite the "Dual-Mode" moniker, BYD says the system offers three driving modes including electric only, hybrid gasoline-electric and gasoline engine only. In detail, here's how the Chinese automaker describes each mode:


Fully electric (BEV) mode: At normal speeds, the vehicle can operate in its all-electric mode, with the electric motor (M2) propelling the rear wheels.

Hybrid gasoline-electric (HEV):

1. 2WD: The gasoline engine not only directly powers the vehicle, but also drives the electric motor (M1) at the front wheels to charge the battery pack.

2. 4WD: When more power is needed, the gas engine and the electric motor (M2) power the vehicle together. If the combined power is enough, the gasoline engine will also drive the electric motor (M1) to charge the battery pack. As speed increases, the gasoline engine can take over seamlessly with support from the 6-speed DCT; when braking, the gas engine automatically shuts down and the electric motor (M2) takes over.

3. 2WD: When battery power is low and not much driving power is required, the gasoline engine drives the electric motor (M1) to charge the battery pack and the electric motor (M2) powers the vehicle by itself.

Gasoline powered: When driving on the highway or in case the battery pack is depleted, the gasoline engine can power the vehicle on its own very efficiently.

According to BYD, the S6DM can travel over 38 miles (60km) purely on electric power (BEV) and over 500km (310 miles) combined when engaging the gasoline engine.

BYD said that the S6DM is amongst the models being considering for the U.S market. At the Detroit show, the company's Chairman, Wang Chuanfu, pushed back the brand's U.S. launch to the first quarter of 2012.



______________VIDEO: BYD S6 from 2010 Beijing Auto Show ______________