Chinese electric vehicle (EV) startup Human Horizons, otherwise known as HiPhi, has confirmed that it will enter the UK market with factory right-hand drive vehicles.
In an interview with Auto Express, HiPhi CTO Mark Stanton said, ”We will definitely be going right-hand drive and going to the UK – I just can’t tell you when yet.”
When asked if the UK could expect a 2026 launch, Mr Stanton, previously a Jaguar Land Rover engineer, said “I hope it’s not going to be that long.”
With a right-hand drive expansion into the UK scheduled, it increases the likelihood that we could see these futuristic luxury EVs on Australian shores in the coming years.
The brand also unveiled its third model, the HiPhi Y crossover, at this week’s Shanghai motor show. Deliveries will start at the end of this year.
It shares its platform with the existing X and Z, and measures 4938mm long and 1958mm wide on a 2950mm wheelbase. That makes it around the size of a BMW iX.
The HiPhi Y also offers a claimed range of over 800km, although this is on the more lenient CLTC standard.
Unlike the other models which were initially Chinese exclusives, the crossover is being developed with global markets in mind.
HiPhi announced this week it will be selling its first two models in Europe from the end of 2023.
The physical locations, initially opening in Oslo, Norway and Munich, Germany, will be ‘HiPhi Hubs’ modelled off the brand’s Chinese customer centres.
HiPhi believes these specific European locations represent the most lucrative areas for EV sales. 80 per cent of all vehicles sold in Norway in 2022 were electric and Germany is the biggest market for EVs by volume in Europe.
The HiPhi X full-size SUV, the brand’s answer to the Tesla Model X, will be the first model to reach European customers as it has just received European Union Individual Vehicle Approval.
The SUV will be followed shortly by the HiPhi Z ‘digital GT’ five-door shooting brake.
Europe and the Middle East will be part of the first wave in HiPhi’s global expansion.
“In the past, we worked hard to introduce global brands to China. Today, we want to bring Chinese brands to the world,” said Ding Lei, the CEO of HiPhi’s parent company, Gaohe Automobiles.
“(HiPhi is) a global high-end brand from China, so while we are deeply cultivating the Chinese market, we also look at the world. In 2023, we will start a global brand strategy and expand overseas markets.”
The current HiPhi models are recognisable for their use of distinctive doors, like Rolls-Royce style coach doors and or rear butterfly doors.
HiPhi models also feature thousands of LEDs within their headlight and tail light clusters which can be programmed (whilst the vehicle is stationary) to display graphics.
Chinese brands have been entering the European market in record numbers in recent years. HiPhi rival Nio now sells vehicles there and is opening numerous battery swap stations, while other Chinese brands operating there include BYD, GWM, Hongqi and Xpeng.
Human Horizons, headquartered in Shanghai, was founded in 2017 by automotive industry veteran and former politician Ding Lei.
It describes itself as a new mobility and intelligent research company and launched the HiPhi’ brand of ‘premium smart all-electric vehicles in 2019.