With EVs now looking increasingly likely to pick up the baton where ICE cars left off, new electric manufacturers have been springing up left right and center to meet the expected demand. We’ve collated five intriguing start-ups for your perusal, but we bet you can’t recognise more than two.
5. BYD Auto
Formed in 2003 in Shenzhen, China, BYD isn’t a “new” car brand per se. However, it has taken two decades for the marque to make it to our shores — the 2023 Atto 3 was the first BYD to land in Britain.
BYD’s acronymic name stands for ‘build your dreams’ although it’s rumored that founder and CEO Wang Chuanfu once joked that it really means ‘bring your dollars.’ Although, given the brand achieved a runaway success in the Chinese EV market last year, his pun can’t have been far from the truth. And, despite having only been on sale here for less than a year, buyers already have three new electric models ( Seal, Dolphin, and Atto 3) to choose from.
With prices starting from around £25,000 for the entry-level Dolphin, the legacy brands are sure to sit up and take notice of this Chinese newcomer. In fact, we reckon it won’t be long until BYD is a household name in the UK.
Nio — not to be confused with Matrix protagonist, Neo — is a Chinese multinational automobile manufacturer with its headquarters in? Yep, you guessed it, China. But unlike BYD, you can’t even buy a NIO in the UK just yet.
As such, the Shanghai-based firm has seldom, if ever, been uttered by British mouths. That’s all about to change though. After recently gaining some media exposure for using ex-Top Gear Stig, Ben Collins, to endorse their upcoming range, Nio is poised and ready to start shipping its high-performance ET5 electric estate to Britian in the spring of 2024.
With dual motor power providing nearly 500 bhp and 350 miles of range, the ET5 is definitely one to watch if your name begins with BM and ends in W. NIO represents excellent value for money, at circa £50,000 with super-saloon performance and all the bells and whistles going. Plus, it appears the brand hasn’t scrimped on tyres either: promotional shots reveal top-quality Continental rubber as standard.
This one is so unusual we don’t even have a photo to share with you yet. Although, to many tech fans, this name will ring a bell or two.
Best known for its work in smartphone manufacture and design, Xiaomi Inc. has now decided to try its hand at making an electric car. Reportedly called the MS11, the new saloon’s design was actually leaked in recent Chinese government filings — much to the disgruntlement of Xiaomi who is pursuing the responsible supplier with a 1 million yuan fine as a result.
As for the car itself, earliest reports suggest it should have Porsche Taycan-rivaling levels of thrust, as well as high levels of autonomy. Sounds promising.
2. SAIC Motor Corporation
Confused? Fear not, your eyes do not deceive you, that is indeed a picture of an MG Cyberster. So who, or what, is SAIC then? As it happens, SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) is China’s largest vehicle manufacturer by sales volume – producing nearly half a million vehicles in September alone. And, without realising it, you’re probably already familiar with some of the Chinese giant’s recent work.
As well as the futuristic Cyberster, SAIC produces cars for numerous well-known automotive brands, often specifically for the Chinese domestic market. SAIC’s association with marques such as VW and General Motors goes as far back as the mid 1980’s, but more recently it has taken ownership and rejuvenated the likes of MG Rover (creating its own replacement brand for the latter, named Roewe). The Chinese brand now even dabbles in commercial vehicles following its acquisition of British LDV in 2011. It would appear the sky’s the limit for this lesser-known automotive powerhouse.
Last, but by no means least: XPENG. Keen followers of the Blackcircles.com’s media hubs will have seen our recent rave review of the marque’s P7 EV sports saloon as we pushed it to the limit on Michelin Pilot Sport EV tyres at Sweden’s testing Gotland Ring racetrack.
For those of you who haven’t had a chance to read that just yet, XPENG completes our quintet of Chinese EV manufacturers. Founded in 2014 by Xia Heng (Henry Xia) and He Tao, Xpeng, XPENG have already produced some exceptional electric cars despite their relative inexperience in motor vehicle manufacturing. Offering attractive styling and extraordinary performance at an attractive price point, we posit an explosion in popularity for the brand when it finally makes its way to the UK next year.
Would you consider one day owning any of the obscure names on this list?
Hero image credit: NIO