Chinese car maker HiPhi confirms right-hand drive production


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Chinese premium brand HiPhi set to show new Y model at Shanghai motor show, ahead of export to select markets.

Fast-moving Chinese premium EV brand HiPhi will shortly give details of a crucial third car to sit underneath its luxurious X SUV and Z grand tourer.

The HiPhi Y, as it’s expected to be called, will open new doors for the four-year-old Shanghai-based company, targeting a lower price point and higher sales volumes – as well as serving as the flagbearer for a global expansion strategy that will have HiPhi cars being sold in Europe by the end of this year.

Speaking exclusively to Automotive Daily Network partner Autocar, HiPhi chief technology officer Mark Stanton (previously head of Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicles division) hinted that the third car, based on the same architecture as its range-mates, will be revealed at the Shanghai motor show later this month and will be cheaper than the $140k X and Z.

“Our first two products are both high-end, top-of-the-range cars,” explained Stanton, adding that they have “anchored our brand at that premium level” to the point where most of HiPhi’s conquest customers are coming over from Mercedes-Benz.

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HiPhi’s first car, the X, entered production just under two years ago and became China’s best-selling premium EV (over $100,000) in its first half year on sale.

The HiPhi Z, a rakish, high-riding saloon, arrived on sale at the end of 2022 and looks to steal some of the indomitable Porsche Taycan’s thunder in the German firm’s biggest market.

But in line with a prevailing focus on younger buyers, who are less “sensitive about brand” than older customers of established premium marques, HiPhi will look to diversify its product line with a more volume-friendly EV that brings comparable levels of technology and functionality at a lower price.

“Having established that brand up there at the higher price point and established our technology capabilities and our premium capabilities as well, we will be introducing relatively less expensive cars and more mass-production cars,” confirmed Stanton. He stressed that they won’t be “cheap cars” and won’t be produced in the “millions and millions” but said they will be smaller and more affordable than the X and Z.

“The first two cars are quite large cars, which fit pretty well in China but not necessarily elsewhere around the world,” he reasoned.

Drawing on experience from his time at JLR, Stanton compared HiPhi’s ambitions to that of the Range Rover line-up, noting in particular that the entry-level Evoque has been a “pretty damn successful product for Land Rover” and is thus a “good example of how you can take that top-end Range Rover and bring it down into a mid-sized premium vehicle”.

Similarly, HiPhi will look to equip its new entry-level model with the stand-out design cues, premium conception, advanced technology and engaging driving characteristics that have defined its products so far.

“Not one brand has all four of those attributes,” Stanton said. “Most brands have at best three, some of them only one.”

He didn’t confirm specifically whether the Y will feature the Z’s projector headlights (which can show films and directional arrows), its centre-mounted robotic arm or its 5G connectivity functions but said it will “still deliver a very competitive level of premiumness”, adding that a lot of the technology featured on other HiPhi cars is software-based and so not prohibitively expensive to roll out to cheaper models.

Once the new car is unwrapped, HiPhi will shift focus to starting sales in markets outside China, with a launch in Europe set to be announced “very shortly”. Cars will be left-hand-drive initially, but production of right-hookers for the UK (“an attractive market”) will follow soon after.

Stanton reaffirmed HiPhi’s commitment to its premium billing, clarifying that global expansion doesn’t mean the brand will “start to sell hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands of cars”, explaining: “Our whole approach is one small step at a time, not to overstretch ourselves and overdo too many things.”

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