Traditionally, the UK car market has been dominated by well known brands such as Audi, BMW, Ford, Mercedes, Nissan and Volkswagen. In recent years manufacturers like Kia, Hyundai and Tesla have risen in popularity but as we move towards an all-electric future there’s several new car brands popping up in the UK. Whilst some of these manufacturers are well established in their Asian or North American home markets, they are not as well known in Europe. So, let’s take a look at some of the new EV brands that have recently come to the UK or are set to launch here soon.
‘Build Your Dreams’ launched in the UK at the start of 2023 with its electric SUV the Atto 3. This family car starts from around £37,000 and has an official range of 260 miles. BYD is a Chinese EV company, founded in 1995, that initially began as a battery firm and transitioned into making cars. The company has also launched a small electric hatchback called the BYD Dolphin and UK deliveries of this are expected to begin at the end of this year. The Dolphin starts from just over £25,000 and is estimated to have a range of around 200 miles.
So far, BYD’s cars have seen a positive reception thanks to their low prices and decent range capabilities. The leasing company Octopus EV is backing BYD’s growth in the UK as it ordered 5,000 cars to be delivered over the next three years. BYD plans to offer EV-only cars in the UK and Europe although it has plug-in hybrid models available in China.
This isn’t the first time the Chinese company Great Wall Motors has been in the UK. From 2012 to 2017 it sold the Great Wall Steed pickup truck but even at a cheap price it failed to impress or compete in any meaningful way against other utility vehicle manufacturers. On its return to UK shores, GWM will sell its cars under the Ora brand which was launched five years ago and stands for ‘Open, Reliable and Alternative’.
Its first vehicle in the UK is called the Ora Funky Cat and it’s been available since early 2023. The Funky Cat is an all-electric hatchback that starts from around £32,000 and rivals the likes of the Volkswagen ID.3 and MG 4. It offers just under 200 miles of range and has a five star Euro NCAP safety rating which is something Chinese manufacturers have struggled to deliver on in the past. The next model from Ora is expected to be a larger saloon style EV that’s called the Lightning Cat in other markets but it’s yet to receive its official name for the UK.
This is the only new manufacturer on our list that isn’t a Chinese brand. Fisker is an American company that plans to launch its Ocean SUV in the UK at the end of 2023. The entry level Ocean starts from £36,000 and rises to £61,000 for the range topping version which has a 440 mile range. The Ocean gets a rear window that rolls down so long luggage can poke out of the rear and Fisker has announced an electric off-roader called the Force E.
Whilst the Ocean will be rechargeable, Fisker wants to make it available with battery swapping technology too. These battery swapping facilities will be provided in collaboration with a company called Ample. They say it will be cheaper than petrol refuelling and as battery technology improves so will the range and performance of the vehicle as customers using Ample will have access to the latest innovations. The swapping stations can run on renewable energy and require minimal grid infrastructure compared to standard EV charging stations.
Nio is a Chinese company that was launched in 2014 and it’s expected to come to the UK in the second half of 2024. It has its sights set on the premium EV market to rival the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz products. Since 2022 Nio has been in other European countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.
Like Fisker, Nio is proposing battery swapping technology in addition to recharging. Nio’s battery swapping stations will be able to exchange batteries in under five minutes. The depleted batteries are then recharged at a slower rate which is said to prolong battery life and reduce the amount of power needed from the grid at any one time. There are currently more than 15 battery swapping stations up and running in Europe.
As well as approaching electric charging in a new way, Nio is adopting an alternative ownership structure. Its customers are referred to as users who will enter a lease agreement for the vehicle itself and a separate lease for the battery.
The first model we’re expecting to see in the UK is an electric estate called the Nio ET5 Touring. Its ES8 is a large SUV that has been confirmed for Germany and a saloon called the ET7 is said to be another model potentially coming to the UK. Euro NCAP has tested four Nio models all of which received five star safety ratings.
In early 2024 Omoda will launch its midsize SUV the Omoda 5 in the UK. The company is owned by Chery, a state-owned Chinese manufacturer that’s been running for more than 25 years. Omoda began as a stand alone brand in 2022 and will sell EVs, hybrids and petrol models in Europe. The Omoda 5 EV will have a 1.6-litre petrol version which has been awarded a five star Euro NCAP rating. However, the brand has already faced controversy after launching in Russia last year amidst the Russia-Ukraine War.