The car companies you’ve (probably) never heard of, but will soon

October 05, 2023 by

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A number of new car companies have their sights set on the UK; we detail the newcomers, and what you can expect from them

A number of new car companies have their sights set on the UK; we detail the newcomers, and what you can expect from them

It’s funny to think that nobody had heard of Tesla 15 years ago, but in that short space of time it has risen to a place where it dominates both headlines and the EV market.

In automotive terms, that’s nothing short of a meteoric rise: Mercedes, after all, has been knocking about for around century, while it took Audi decades to climb to the level of premium prominence it now enjoys.

The advent of the electric car has heralded a vast growth in new companies looking to enter the market, just as Tesla did in 2008 with the first Roadster, before the Model S put it firmly on the map five years later.

Because while electric cars have existed for nearly as long as the automobile, it has only been in the last couple of decades that they have entered the mainstream, giving new, agile companies the chance to match and sometimes leapfrog established firms that have been reliant on diesel and petrol engines for the past century.

It is also impossible to overlook or overstate the importance Chinese car companies have in the race for the EV market.

Relatively low wages, a huge, skilled workforce, an established automotive manufacturing and shipping base, strong government support, plus China’s geographical location close to the automotive powerhouses that are Japan and Korea have all contributed to the country’s successes where car production is concerned. Excellent business decisions that have seen Chinese firms acquire Volvo, MG and Lotus undoubtedly play a huge part, too.

That’s not to say it’s only Chinese car companies Over the coming years, many new car companies could be as common a sight on UK driveways as the Fords, Volkswagens and BMWs we’re so used to. But who are they, and why should UK motorists be interested in what they have to offer? We take a look at the new names that will be fighting for consumer attention in the coming months and years.

The new car companies coming to the UK are:

Lynk & Co

The Lynk & Co 01

Country of origin: China/Sweden
Date founded: 2016
Parent company: Geely
Notable models: 01 and 02
Unique selling point (USP): subscription-based ‘ownership’
Likely UK entry date: 2024

Founded in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2016, and owned by Chinese car giant Geely, Lynk & Co has long had its sights set on the UK, initially suggesting it would arrive as soon as 2018.

That clearly hasn’t happened, though the firm’s plug-in hybrid 01 model, which is based on the same platform as the Volvo XC40, is available in Europe, and it looks likely Lynk & Co will be arriving here in 2024. When it does, expect a subscription-based service that will put a new 01 on your drive for around £45,000, or £600 a month (it’s €44,500 outright/ €550 a month in Europe at present), inclusive of insurance, tax and breakdown cover, with potential discounts if you let other subscribers use your car when it’s sat idle.


Country of origin: China
Date founded: 2014
Parent company: N/A
Notable models: ET5
USP: battery swaps for EVs
Likely UK entry date: 2024

Nio’s EP9 is a £2.5 million 1,300hp track-based hypercar, and while it has no chance of coming to the UK, it did showcase a technology that has become core to the Nio brand: swappable batteries.

These feature in the firm’s ET5 saloon and estate, which is set for UK shores early next year, and is already offered in Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden.

Nio’s battery-swap stations the car driven into a dedicated bay, where it is precisely positioned so its depleted battery pack can be removed from underneath by robots, and a full one put in its place. Bold plans, certainly, but Nio already has 1,300 swap stations in China, and had carried out over a million swaps by the end of 2021.

The firm plans to have 4,000 swap stations worldwide by 2025, eliminating the need to wait for electric cars to charge. Expect a price tag of around £50,000 when the ET5 arrives in the UK.


Country of origin: Croatia
Date founded: 2009
Parent company: Part owned by Bugatti/Porsche
Notable models: Nevera
USP: electric hypercars
Likely UK entry date: 2023

Rimac’s founder, Mate (pronounced ‘Matty’) Rimac, is perhaps one of the most exciting brains in the automotive world, winning numerous international awards and competitions for electronics and innovation before he’d even left school, and designing the Concept One EV hypercar at the tender age of 23.

The Rimac Nevera followed in 2021, and this 1,914hp hypercar quickly took the crown as the quickest-accelerating car in the world.

Little wonder, perhaps, that Bugatti and Porsche together formed a joint venture with Rimac Automobili in 2021, taking a 45% stake in the firm, keen to capitalise both on Mate Rimac’s wizardry, and the company’s ability to make electric hypercars a reality.


Country of origin: Vietnam
Date founded: 2017
Parent company: Vingroup
Notable models: VF8, VF9
USP: Vietnam’s first foray into European car market
Likely UK entry date: 2023

You may not have heard of Vinfast, but its parent company, Vingroup, is a corporate titan in Vietnam, where it operates everything from supermarkets and hospitals to schools and electronics companies.

Vingroup has now turned its attention to cars with Vinfast, which aims to bring its VF8 and VF9 SUVs to North America and mainland Europe this year, with the UK also on its radar. As and when Vinfast arrives, its electric SUVs should be competitively priced, while if its parent company’s ambition and achievements are anything to go by, expect to see Vinfast dealers here sometime soon.


Country of origin: USA
Date founded: 2009
Parent company: N/A
Notable models: R1T, R1S
USP: big EV pick-up trucks and SUVs
Likely UK entry date: TBC

Rivian initially had plans to build vehicles in Europe under an agreement with Mercedes, but with that plan now on pause, its entry into the UK or EU looks uncertain.

North American customers are already able to purchase the electric R1T pick-up truck and R1S SUV, which share the same mechanical underpinnings, and offer a range of around 300 miles. But with kerb weights of over three tonnes, they’re not built with UK roads or weight limits in mind.

Potentially of more interest is Rivian’s partnership with Amazon, which has an 18% stake in the company and has led to Rivian building delivery trucks for the online retailer.


Country of origin: China
Date founded: 2018
Parent company: Great Wall Motors
Notable models: Funky Cat
USP: characterful, affordable EVs
Likely UK entry date: here already

If we were being really strict, we wouldn’t include Ora in this rundown, as the Funky Cat is already on sale in the UK. Offering buyers in the market for a family EV something rather different, this cute-looking electric car comes loaded with kit and has a high-quality cabin, while Ora’s target of selling 5,000 Funky Cats this year shows it is both realistic and ambitious.

Speaking of ambition, a longer-range Funky Cat that would increase the range from 193 to around 260 miles is in the offing, while a four-door coupe model, provisionally called the Next Cat, could also make its way over here by the end of 2023.


The Wey Coffee01, known as the Mocha in some markets

Country of origin: China
Date founded: 2016
Parent company: Great Wall Motors
Notable models: Coffee01
USP: Luxury for less
Likely UK entry date: 2024?

As with Ora, Wey is owned by Great Wall Motors, which sells over a million vehicles a year in China. But while Ora is already selling cars in the UK, it’s less clear if Wey will follow suit, although it looks set to enter mainland Europe this year.

It’s a mid-size plug-in hybrid SUV aimed at premium buyers, with an expected price tag of around £50,000.



Country of origin: China
Date founded: 2003
Parent company: BYD Company
Notable models: Atto 3, Dolphin, Seal
USP: the world’s largest EV company
Likely UK entry date: Already here

Short for ‘build your dreams’, BYD Company is a Chinese conglomerate that makes solar panels, electric bicycles, forklift trucks and much more besides, with BYD Auto specialising, naturally, in cars. BYD became the world’s largest maker of electric cars in 2022, overtaking Tesla by selling 641,000 electric cars in the first six months of last year.

And while many of the firms in this rundown are newcomers to the market, BYD has been building cars for two decades now, and it started selling cars in the UK earlier this year with the Atto 3 SUV. Since then the Dolphin small hatchback has made its UK debut, and the Seal saloon is due to follow soon.


The Fisker Ocean

Country of origin: USA
Date founded: 2016
Parent company: N/A
Notable models: Ocean
USP: design-led EVs
Likely UK entry date: 2023

Henrik Fisker doesn’t like to rest on his laurels. The Dutch designer and entrepreneur penned the BMW Z8, the Aston Martin DB9 and V8 Vantage, as well as a motorcycle and a superyacht.

As if that weren’t enough, he also co-founded Fisker Automotive, which was an early pioneer of plug-in hybrids with the Fisker Karma of 2011.

Fisker Automotive folded in 2014, but Henrik kept its logo and trademarks, and a new firm, Fisker Inc., was founded in 2016. That company has now produced the Fisker Ocean, an all-electric SUV that’s about the same size as a BMW X3, and will be built at the same Magna Steyr factor as the Jaguar I-Pace. Fisker has previously said the Ocean should start at around £35,000. A smaller model, the Fisker PEAR, is also slated for production.

Lucid Motors

Country of origin: USA
Date founded: 2007
Parent company: N/A
Notable models: Air
USP: Pure EV luxury
Likely UK entry date: 2023

Almost every key model so far featured in our rundown has been an SUV, but North American company Lucid is pinnings its hopes on the saloon shape with its Air, which we reviewed in May ’23.

With a sleek, futuristic design and an interior that offers levels of luxury not seen this side of a Bentley or Rolls-Royce, the Air promises to be something rather special. With a battery range of up to 561 miles, together with a 0-60mph time of just three seconds, you could hardly want to go further, or faster. The only question is when the Air will arrive, as Lucid has experienced production delays in the USA, which may hold back its European launch.


The Xpeng G9

Country of origin: China
Date founded: 2014
Parent company: N/A
Notable models: P7, G9
USP: High-tech, distinctive EVs
Likely UK entry date: 2025?

Taking a similar approach to Nio, XPeng has already launched in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, where it sells the flagship G9 electric SUV alongside the P7 EV saloon. With cutting edge driver-assistance systems, marketed as XPiolt, XPeng clearly hopes to follow Tesla’s lead in this field.

The XPeng G9 can also take ultra-rapid charging at a rate of up to 300kW – that’s quicker than the Porsche Taycan can recharge, while its price take of around €60,000 seems competitive given the tech on offer.


Country of origin: China
Date founded: 1997
Parent company: Chery
Notable models: Omoda 5
Unique selling point (USP): first UK car from China’s largest exporter
Likely UK entry date: 2024

The Omada 5 is already sold under the Chery name in Australia and New Zealand, while the state-owned car maker has plans to launch in the UK under the Omada brand. When it arrives, pure EV, plug-in hybrid and conventional petrol versions of the 5 are likely to be offered, while the twin wraparound digital screens and on-trend SUV body should provide broad appeal.


Country of origin: China
Date founded: 2020
Parent company: N/A
Notable models: Free
Unique selling point (USP): Triple infotainment screens
Likely UK entry date: 2025? 

Voyah as a brand is very much still in its infancy, having only been around since 2020. Despite this, the Chinese brand has already unveiled its first car for Europe: the Voyah Free. This all-electric SUV has up to 310 miles of range, slightly less than the Tesla Model Y Performance, and you get dual motors with 489hp.

This new Tesla alternative is set to go on sale in mainland Europe in 2024, but it’s not known yet if it’ll hit UK shores. If it does, expect to see it in 2025.

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