Currently reading: Chinese start-up Human Horizons unveils radical electric SUV concept
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Chinese start-up Human Horizons, whose technical team is led by the former boss of Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations division, has unveiled a radical electric SUV concept called the HiPhi 1.

The machine closely previews the new firm’s first production car, which it says is due on sale within two years.

Human Horizons describes itself as a technology company that's focusing on “smart vehicles, smart transportation and smart cities”. It plans to develop a range of machines for the growing Chinese premium EV market, designed for both private owners and shared use, featuring advanced autonomous systems and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication.

The HiPhi 1 concept is the first car the firm has revealed. Technical development has been led by Mark Stanton, who formerly worked for both Ford and Jaguar Land Rover.

The machine features 562 sensors to offer ‘higher-level autonomy’ using V2X communication systems. It will also monitor the interior using facial recognition cameras and even smell sensors to detect unwanted odours.

The HiPhi 1 features nine power-operated doors, flaps and stowage compartments, including gullwing-opening rear doors, and a handleless entry system that uses a facial recognition system matched to a smartphone.

There will be a number of different modes for accessing it, including a ‘superstar’ setting that opens all the roof and door systems. There's also a ‘parade’ mode that will allow the car to move slowly with the gullwing flaps raised.

The exterior design has been informed by Chinese tastes, with a tall crossover design and a large, coupé-like glasshouse. Human Horizons says the lack of a combustion engine has allowed the front bulkhead to be pushed much further forward than in a conventional car, with the 5.2-metre overall length – similar to that of a long wheelbase Range Rover – allowing huge interior space.

The HiPhi 1 also features fins designed to direct airflow at the trailing edge of the rear doors and a similar channel built into the front wing; Human Horizons boss Kevin Chen says that these have been inspired by aircraft and promote high-speed stability, with the car having a drag co-efficient of 0.28Cd.

The HiPhi also features smart headlights capable of beaming patterns onto road or walls, with examples including a zebra crossing effect to show pedestrians that it's safe to cross. The larger panels beneath the lighting units contain hundreds of LEDs and are capable of displaying patterns or even messages.

The interior features three rows of two seats, all of which are power-operated and can be switched into numerous configurations.

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The car’s structure incorporates both high-strength steel and aluminium, with the battery compartment under the floor. The dashboard is largely formed of display screens, with a digital instrument pack, portrait-orientated touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard and another in front of the passenger for playing media. It also features a camera-based rear-view system, although this isn’t currently legal in China.

Stanton, who leads a team of around 400 engineers, said both rear and four-wheel-drive versions will be offered, the latter with a pair of 268bhp motors and a 0-62mph time of around 3.9sec. Differently sized battery packs will also be offered, with the biggest 96kWh unit giving a range of up to 400 miles with the rear-drive powertrain under the NEDC testing protocol.

Stanton wouldn't give a weight figure but confirmed that we can expect something so large and highly specified to be more than two tonnes.  

While there are no plans to sell the HiPhi 1 outside China in the short term, the firm has global ambitions in the longer term. Pricing is yet to be set, but the HiPhi 1 is likely to be at the higher end of the Chinese EV market. Deliveries are due to being in 2021. Production will take place in a plant – currently being refitted – that was formerly used by Kia’s Chinese joint venture partner.

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Mike Duff

Mike Duff
Title: Contributing editor

Mike has been writing about cars for more than 25 years, having defected from radio journalism to follow his passion. He has been a contributor to Autocar since 2004, and is a former editor of the Autocar website. 

Mike joined Autocar full-time in 2007, first as features editor before taking the reins at Being in charge of the video strategy at the time saw him create our long running “will it drift?” series. For which he apologies.

He specialises in adventurous drive stories, many in unlikely places. He once drove to Serbia to visit the Zastava factory, took a £1500 Mercedes W124 E-Class to Berlin to meet some of its taxi siblings and did Scotland’s North Coast 500 in a Porsche Boxster during a winter storm. He also seems to be a hypercar magnet, having driven such exotics as the Koenigsegg One:1, Lamborghini SCV12, Lotus Evija and Pagani Huayra R.

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Cameronreynolds 17 August 2019


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ou701 1 August 2019

Oh golly, what on earth are those foreign chaps up to now?

I had to laugh at those comments about the non-global name of this new Chinese car and their lack of 'taste'...I can almost see the mustaches twitching in deepest Surrey!

Firstly, this car will apparently be aimed at the Chinese home market, so why does it have to have a global name.? If it was to be exported I suspect they might re-name to, I don't know, something more enticing like the Humber Super Snipe Mk IV or something more acceptable outside China. As for the Chinese lack of 'taste' - it's worth noting they seem to be very happy to buy expensive European brands to be driven around in, so we shouldn't complain too much.

Dismissing the Chinese auto industry now is akin to the British motorcycle manufacturers who ignored the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer's early efforts in the early 1960s. Whether we like it or not, the Chinese are set to become serious players in the world car market. 

Geely has already demonstrated with Volvo (and maybe soon with Lotus), they know what they are doing. And, while I can't get excited by electric SUV's, I have to say this concept from Human Horizons looks a lot better than most I've seen and doesn't seem in any way derivative.

Now that it looks like EV's will dominate the car world (at least for now), the Chinese automotive industry is perfectly poised to take advantage of fundamental changes causing disruption among all the established marques. 


si73 1 August 2019

I don't think the comment

I don't think the comment regarding taste was derogatory, at least not to me and how I read it, the comment said observable taste, and to me implied that the Chinese have a wide ranging taste for different vehicles, hense stating all the bland eurobox Santana's etc they buy as well as appearing to prefer being chauffeured, unlike say the UKs taste that is predominantly interested in premium brand SUVs.

You are right though, the Chinese motor industry is coming fast, faster than the ever improving Korean brands, and will very soon be the largest player.

comment8 31 July 2019


The Chinese market absorbs millions of crushingly dull Santanas,  Sagitars, Lavidas and Boras every year. I don’t think there is a Chinese “taste” that is readily observable beyond a penchant for being dchauffeured.