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‘Not every car manufacturer will survive the Chinese revolution’

With a wave of Chinese cars on the way to the UK, editor-in-chief Steve Fowler thinks the survival of some well-known manufacturers could be under threat

Opinion - HiPhi

I’m not overplaying it when I say that this year’s Shanghai Auto Show – which I’ve just returned from – is the most important motor show I have ever been to, and I’ve been to quite a few!

The proliferation of new brands with new models was jaw-dropping. As was the scale of the show itself (think of the NEC, double it and then add another one on top), with huge stands showing shiny new models from brands that weren’t there last time I visited Shanghai, before Covid.

The Chinese car industry is already having an impact in the UK. Teslas and Polestars are built in China. Cars from MG, BYD and GWM Ora are on sale now, and brands like Nio, HiPhi, Omoda, Zeekr and XPeng will be here soon.

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What about other brands? GWM has its Wey, Tank and Haval brands, with Vice President and the Head of international market at GWM, Parker Shi, not ruling out them coming to the UK, too.

And I can tell you that Aiways, Avatr, Hongki, Arcfox, Dayun, Leapmotor, Rising, Aito, Skyworth, Li, YuanHang, Poer, Neta, Jaecoo, Ruilan – and that’s not a full list of the brands I saw – are all looking at the UK market closely.

Two stood out for me: HiPhi, which launched its Y, is taking a very different, very hi-tech approach and has well respected Brit Mark Stanton as its CTO, so they should drive well! And Nio, with charismatic boss William Li, is like Tesla with hindsight; the cars look good, the community of users (not owners) is highly engaged, sustainability is strong, and UK plans are well under way.

Not every new entry to the market here will survive, and the Chinese have a fail-fast mentality. But what about existing brands? They’ll have to work harder than ever for your cash; it’ll be tough and not all of them will survive, either. Strong brand names will have greater value in this new world, too. So what timing for JLR to demote Land Rover. It’s a huge risk to play with such a well known, well loved brand – and rivals could see it as a huge opportunity.

Click here for more on HiPhi's plans to come to the UK...

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