China’s biggest and most ambitious automakers were some of the most visible stars of the IAA Mobility auto show in Munich but HiPhi, a startup that is already shaking up the premium EV segment in its home market, took a very different approach.
HiPhi showed just one model, the Z four-door grand touring fastback, available in the test drive area, and the company did not have a stand of its own, even though sales are already under way in Germany and Norway.
That cautious stance is deliberate, said Mark Stanton, a former engineer at Jaguar Land Rover and Ford who is HiPhi’s chief technical officer and head of its Europe operations.
"We are dipping our toe in the water in Europe to see the reaction," he said. "So far it’s been incredibly positive," Stanton said in an interview at the show earlier this month.
HiPhi, the automotive brand of Human Horizons, whose founders include Stanton and former General Motors executives, has already taken the fight to Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz in China, where Stanton says it has a leading position among EVs selling for more than 500,000 renminbi (64,000 euros).
Two models have been launched so far, the X, a four- or six-seat large SUV with dual-action rear doors – a rear-hinged lower section with a gull wing upper body – from 109,000-123,000 euros; and the four- or five-seat Z, at 105,000-107,000 euros. The first deliveries have just started, Stanton said.