Nio. WM Motors. Xpeng. Arcfox. Seres. Byton. The list of Chinese EV startups seeming goes on and on and on. In fact, at April’s Shanghai Auto Show, 20 new electric car makers flaunted and touted their supposedly upcoming models. There’s so many startups at this point that the Chinese government is even looking at ways to reduce the number of companies by raising the market entry barrier.

However, a new one with another silly name has managed to make itself known now. Human Horizons is the name of this new endeavour, and it’s previewed its first planned production model, the HiPhi1, ahead of a planned 2021 entry to the Chinese market, with hopes of making it abroad after that.

Under the floor of the HiPhi 1 will supposedly lie a 96kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which stores the juice to power either one or two 200kW Bosch electric motors, depending upon whether rear- or all-wheel drive is specified.

The claimed figures are all about what you’d expect to hear given the hardware the company is working with – an estimated 3.9 second 0-100km/h sprint for the twin-motor model, and a claimed range of 600km on the NEDC cycle.

If those figures are to be believed, and if the HiPhi 1 was to make it to scale export production, it would be a clear rival to the Tesla Model X – a car that it clearly draws inspiration from as it, too, is a sleek, three-row, six-seater SUV.

While at the front, we’re definitely getting some new Mitsubishi vibes, the rest of it is clearly drawing upon the Model X. This is most evident in the rear doors, although for added cool points, it manages to not only have gullwing doors, but rear-hinged suicide doors as well, as the two sections of the door aren’t attached.

As always with these electric concept cars, there are plenty of radical features unlikely to ever make it to production, assuming the car itself ever does, and the vast array of screens spanning across the dashboard and into the rear parts of the cabin are one such thing we imagine would be unlikely to see the light of day in a production model – specifically, those on the passenger side.

The camera-based rear-view mirror system is also unlikely to make production, more so due to it not being legal in China currently, rather than because of its implausibility.

We’ll also admit to scepticism regarding some of the smart technology that will supposedly be fitted to the car, including the supposed 562-sensor system that will detect the occupants comfort and happiness levels, with Human Horizons’ COO Kevin Chen claiming that the car “will be able to play your favourite song when you’re sad.” Given established companies like Citroën and Toyota having promised such systems in the past and having failed to deliver, we’d like to see if Human Horizons could prove us wrong, but only time will tell there.

Some things that build upon existing technologies to seem more feasible, however, including it being fitted with a LIDAR, radar, and camera system to allow for Level 3 autonomous driving from the get-go, and the possibility of Level 4 autonomy soon after.

It’s also being trialled as part of a Chinese government scheme for developing C2X car-to-infrastructure communications by talking to ‘smart roads’ and the autonomous vehicles using them, with a 7km stretch of tarmac near Shanghai already having been set up for the company to test this system on.

Giving Human Horizons a fighting chance of success is the fact that its engineering team is being led by a chap called Mark Stanton, who is the company’s new Chief Technical Officer and a former employee of Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, and the latter’s Special Vehicle Operations unit most recently, with 35 years of experience in the industry.

The company already has 1000 employees tied to it, meaning is a decently-sized operation, and a factory has already been lined up to produce the HiPhi 1 from next year, which is owned by Kia and Dongfeng.

We’ll be interested to see if Human Horizons can ever bring this thing to production – especially if it keeps those absolutely wild double rear doors – but for now, we’ll all just have to hold our collective breath.

Patrick Jackson
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