Features
13 Mar 24

The new OEMs targeting fleets

Company car choice lists could look very different in a few years’ time if Chinese and Far East car makers maintain their sales success.

With the biggest new car market in the world, China is home to domestic brands with enormous annual sales and little awareness overseas. Registering more than 20 million new cars in 2022, over 50% more than the US, China is rapidly becoming a driving force in the world automotive market, especially among electric vehicles. Data from China Customs showed that China's automobile exports exceeded a record-breaking 5.22 million units in 2023, and according to The Economist: “By 2030 China could double its share of the global market, to a third, ending the dominance of the West’s national champions, especially in Europe.”

As an example, BYD sold 1.6 million battery electric cars in 2023. Volkswagen Group handed over about 394,000 fully electric vehicles to customers during the same 12 months.

Here, we explore some of the brands coming to a company car choice list near you in the next few years.

BYD

Ownership: listed on Hong Kong and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges.

China’s automotive market leader is hot on the heels of Tesla as the world’s number one best selling EV maker. Last year it sold 1.6m BEVs and 1.4m PHEVs, and has already manufactured its 6 millionth EV.

BYD now has exports in its sights, with a growing presence in 19 European countries and a range of five electric cars, plus three new launches in 2024. The OEM has won a huge deal to supply SIXT with 100,000 cars by 2028, which will boost its brand awareness.

NIO

Ownership: listed on Hong Kong, Singapore, and New York Stock Exchanges.

Barely a decade old, NIO is approaching half a million deliveries and sold 160,000 new vehicles in 2023.

Among a series of technological breakthroughs, NIO has developed a battery-swapping system that avoids the unavoidable delays of plugging in a vehicle. Simply drive up to the automated swapping station and the process takes barely five minutes.

NIO now has a European presence in Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark, and aims to sell its first car in the US by 2025.

Zeekr

Ownership: owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, a privately-controlled Chinese automotive technology group.

As part of the giant Geely empire, that includes brands such as Volvo, Polestar, Lotus, smart, LEVC, Lynk & Co, and Proton, Zeekr has formidable resources behind it.

Zeekr has a distinct European flavour thanks to its Gothenburg design studio, and sold 118,685 cars in 2023, up 65% year-on-year, and is aiming to deliver 230,000 this year.

The OEM has opened sales operations in Sweden and the Netherlands, and plans to launch in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France and Norway.

VinFast

Ownership: VinFast is a member of Vingroup, the largest private corporation in Vietnam, and listed on the US Nasdaq.

Vietnam-based VinFast has global expansion on its agenda, with plans to build manufacturing facilities in both Indonesia and India. The company stopped making ICE models in 2022, and has developed a range of seven SUVs with prices from $22,000 to $83,000.

VinFast has opened showrooms in the US, Canada, France, Germany and the Netherlands, and will start selling cars in the UK this year.

Following its debut on the Nasdaq, VinFast became the third most-valuable automaker behind Tesla and Toyota, although it only expected to sell 50,000 cars in 2023.

XPENG

Ownership: Listed on Hong Kong and New York Stock Exchanges.

Volkswagen bought a 4.99% stake in XPENG, the loss-making Chinese EV manufacturer, last August, with the two OEMs set to develop two VW branded EVs for sale in China.

Founded in 2014, XPENG is recognised for its technological prowess, and has developed in-house its advanced driver-assistance system technology and in-car intelligent operating system, as well as core vehicle systems, such as the powertrain and electrical architecture.

The company currently manufactures four EVs, with a fifth set for launch, and has built an extensive supercharging network in China. Overseas, Xpeng will begin sales in Germany, France and the U.K. in 2024

HiPhi

Ownership: HiPhi is owned by Human Horizons, a privately-owned company.

Maker of luxury and ultra performance EVs, HiPhi has alredy launched two models in Europe, the €109,000 HiPhi X and the €105,000 HiPhi Z. The futuristic brand, founded in 2017, now has sales hubs in Munich and Oslo, while in 2022 its X topped the sales chart in China’s luxury segment for cars costing more than RMB500,000.

In June last year, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment signed a $5.6 billion deal with Human Horizons to collaborate on the development, manufacture and sale of electric vehicles.

 

Images: BYD, Zeekr, Xpeng, HiPhi, Vinfast, NIO

Authored by: Jonathan Manning