Chinese cars: everything you need to know

There’s a new wave of Chinese cars coming to the UK, while others are already here. We take a look at the different brands and the models they offer...

Chinese cars

Unless you’re the kind of person who struggles to order at a restaurant, more choice is usually a good thing. That’s exactly what car buyers are going to get, too, thanks to an influx of Chinese car brands who have set their sights on the UK market. With more than 200 individual car and van brands jostling for position in their home market, it’s no surprise that a number of them have eyed Europe – and in particular the UK – as their next source of expansion.

Which Chinese brands are coming, though, and are their cars any good? In this guide, we reveal which Chinese car brands are already present in the UK with their own models, which are coming soon, and which already have a foothold on the car market by owning, or part-owning, European brands. Most of the models you see here are Chinese electric cars, but there are a number of petrol and plug-in hybrid models too.

Are Chinese cars about to get more expensive?

Chinese electric cars have historically been able to undercut their rivals on price, because they've benefitted from subsidies from the Chinese Government. However, the European Commission* has said that tariffs of as much as 38.1% could be placed on cars built outside the EU to be sold within its borders – which could lead to major price hikes.

Citing fair competition among car makers, the European Commission said the new tariffs, which would be on top of existing duties, would be worked out on a case-by-case basis. However, officials have confirmed that under the plans, Volvo owner Geely would be hit with an additional tax hike of 20%, and BYD with 17.4%. MG owner SAIC is expected to be hit with the highest rate, at 38.1%, because it's considered by the European Commission to not have cooperated with its investigation.

Discussions with the Chinese Government are ongoing, which means these plans may yet not come to fruition. If they do, however, it's likely that the UK will follow suit – although any decision would wait until after the General Election on 4 July.

*Source: European Commission

Chinese car brands coming soon to the UK


AIWays U5 front cornering

Models Aiways U5, Aiways U6 Arriving in the UK Summer 2025

Who are they?

With a name which apparently stands for ‘AI is on the way’, Aiways has been around since 2017 and specialises in electric cars. Its production facility in China is capable of producing 300,000 cars per year, though it only produces half that amount at the moment. Unlike some of the other brands here, Aiways already sells cars in multiple countries – including 10 countries in Europe – and the brand has targeted sales in the UK to begin late this year.

The models most likely to make it here are the U5 electric SUV, which was revealed in 2020, and the U6 coupé-SUV which was designed under former Pininfarina design boss Ken Okuyama, whose credits include the Ferrari Enzo supercar.

BYD Dolphin front cornering

Models BYD Atto 3, BYD Dolphin, BYD Seal Arriving in the UK Now

Who are they?

BYD is one of the few Chinese car brands to not just launch here, but to start selling its cars in reasonable numbers from a growing network of more than 40 dealers. In fact, there are currently three of them to choose from – the range starts with the Dolphin, which is the brand’s most affordable electric car and a rival to the GWM Ora 03 and MG4. Then there’s the Atto 3 electric SUV, which we’ve already lived with, and the Seal, which achieved a real-world range of 255 miles in our most recent winter range test. That was still 28% down on its official figure of 354 miles, but the Seal performed better than some well-established electric car rivals.

What Car? readers have also had a chance to get up close to the BYD Dolphin as part of our reader test team.

Future models from the brand will include the BYD Seal U electric SUV, the BYD Ocean-M hot hatch, which gets up to 308bhp from its single electric motor, and the BYD Shark electric pick-up truck, which will count the Maxus T90EV among its key rivals.


Deepal G318 side

Models Deepal G318 Arriving in the UK 2025

Who are they?

Owned by Chinese brand Changan, Deepal is the marque’s off-roader sub-brand, and is aiming to bring its Deepal G318 SUV to the UK as early as next year.

While technical details around the new SUV are scarce, officials have confirmed that it will stretch to around five metres in length. It’s expected to be powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine which acts as a generator for a battery, which in turn provides electrical energy for the car’s motors. That means the G318 will be a range-extender, much like ePower versions of the Nissan Qashqai and X-Trail.


Exeed Exlantic E03 front

Models Exeed Exlantix E03, Exeed Exlantix E0Y Arriving in the UK 2026

Who are they?

Like a number of brands you’ll see on this list, Exeed is part of a wider group that’s owned by Chinese giant Chery, but while Chery is a big name in China, it’s chosen to create new brands for other markets – and Exeed is its premium car arm.

Exeed already sells cars in Saudi Arabia, Chile and Kazakhstan, where its line-up consists of combustion-engined SUVs, which will soon be offered as plug-in hybrids. However, for its UK launch, Exeed is likely to begin with its BMW i5-rivalling Exlantix E03 saloon, and the Audi Q8-sized Exlantix E0Y SUV. A third, as-yet unnamed electric model is currently in development.

In time, Exeed’s UK models will include plug-in hybrid and petrol options, and the brand is targeting customers who would usually choose Audi, BMW or Mercedes cars.


New Ora Funky Cat front cornering

Models GWM Ora 3 Arriving in the UK Now

Who are they?

Ora is another example of a Chinese sub-brand which is owned by an automotive giant in its home market. In this case, that’s Ora, and its first model, the 03, was originally called the Ora Funky Cat when it launched in the UK last year.

Facing key small electric car rivals including the Cupra Born and MG4, the 03 draws power from a 45.4kWh (usable capacity) battery, which gives the car an official range of 193 miles between charges. We like that it comes with lots of safety kit, and decent space for your rear passengers, but a tiny boot and sub-par ride and handling means the 03 only scored two stars out of five in our in-depth review.

Ora’s second UK-bound car, the 07, will arrive later this year, offering an official range of 354 miles, and an expected starting price of around £35,000. Beyond that, the brand is planning a small SUV based on the 03. 


Firefly rear badge

Models TBC Arriving in the UK 2025

Who are they?

The sister brand to Nio, Firefly will take on the budget electric car market, where its sibling will focus on premium offerings. While details on Firefly’s model line-up are scarce, it’s expected to produce a small electric hatchback to take on the Renault 5 and Volkswagen ID 2.

Like Nio, Firefly owners will be able to take advantage of battery swapping technology, meaning they can replace their depleted batteries with new, fully-charged ones at dedicated facilities. Given that infrastructure will take time to build, though, both Firefly and Nio models will also feature sockets for traditional charging.


HiPhi X front driving

Models HiPhi X, HiPhi Z Arriving in the UK Summer 2025

Who are they?

HiPhi is the electric car division of one of China’s largest technology groups, and launched in 2019. The brand has just launched its X coupé-SUV and Z luxury cars in Germany and Norway, and the pair are tipped to come to the UK soon.

Both cars feature top-end technology, including a 17-speaker stereo, a 19.9in infotainment touchscreen and a series of 8.0in screens elsewhere in both cars. Another feature is a robotic arm which adjusts the viewing angle of the infotainment screen for tall or short drivers. All of that gadgetry doesn’t come cheap, though, with prices for the X starting from around £93,000, and the Z from around £90,000.

Further away, HiPhi has shown plans for a range-topping electric sports car, the HiPhi A, which gets a staggering 1287bhp from its three motors – allowing it to hit 60mph from a standing start in just 2.0sec, and accelerate to a top speed of 187mph.


IM L6 front static

Models IM L7, LS6, LS7 Arriving in the UK 2025

Who are they?

Founded in 2020, IM is the sister brand to MG – a brand which already counts an award-winning electric car, the MG4, among its ranks. While MG focuses on the mass market, however, IM will focus on premium models. Both brands are ultimately owned by one of China’s largest car makers – SAIC.

Working with technology giant Alibaba, IM currently offers the L7 executive saloon and the LS6 and LS7 SUVs, which compete with electric SUVs such as the Kia EV6 and Tesla Model Y

While you may have heard of the IM name before in relation International Motors and Subaru, this is a different outfit.


Coming Soon Chery Jaecoo 7

Models Jaecoo 7 Arriving in the UK Autumn 2024

Who are they?

Like Exeed and Omoda which you’ll see later on this list, Jaecoo is owned by the Chinese car giant Chery, and its first model is an electric family SUV, the Jaecoo 7.

Counting big-selling family SUVs such as the Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai among its rivals, the 7 will be offered with either a 1.6-litre petrol engine or as a 1.5-litre plug-in hybrid.

Inside, buyers can expect to find a 14.8in infotainment screen, a head-up display, wireless phone charging and the latest driver assistance systems.

To sell its cars in the UK, Jaecoo is planning a 50-strong dealer network, working with existing dealer groups across the country.


Leapmotor T03 front

Models Leapmotor C01, C11, T03 Arriving in the UK Spring 2025

Who are they?

Founded in 2015 and specialising in electric cars, Leapmotor is a partner of European giant Stellantis (which owns the Alfa Romeo, Citroën, Fiat, Jeep, Peugeot and Vauxhall brands, among others). According to Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares, Leapmotor models “will be able to compete [on price] with other Chinese brands that are leveraging the cost competitiveness of manufacturing in China, making EVs affordable for the middle classes of Europe”. Its models include the T03 small car, which could cost as little as £15,000, plus the C01 saloon and C11 SUV.


Lynk&Co 01

Models Lynk&Co 01, Lynk&Co 08 Arriving in the UK 2025

Who are they?

When it comes to a UK-market release, Lynk&Co is actually running a bit late. That’s because the firm’s Lynk&Co 01 plug-in hybrid SUV was originally planned to launch here last year, but its market launch was pushed back.

Sharing the underpinnings with the Volvo XC40 family SUV, the 01 combines a 177bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine with an 80bhp electric motor, and offers an electric-only range of around 32 miles courtesy of its 9kWh battery. After the 01 is on sale, Lynk&Co could bring its larger 08 SUV, which is based on the same underpinnings as the Volvo XC60, to the UK.

In Europe, the brand operates with a subscription model which sees drivers pay a flat monthly fee for their cars, for as little as a month at a time, but it’s currently unclear whether the Lynk&Co will bring the same offering here.


Nio ET5

Models Nio ET5 Arriving in the UK Spring 2025

Who are they?

Nio drivers won’t have to do anything as old-fashioned as plug their electric cars in to recharge. No, instead they’ll use a network of battery swapping stations to replace the battery pack in their car entirely. A full swap takes about five minutes, and you can even swap your regular battery for a larger one if you’re going on a long journey.

Nio already sells cars in Germany, The Netherlands and some other European countries, and its first model to arrive in the UK will be the Nio ET5, a Tesla Model 3 rival. If sales of that model go well, then Nio’s larger cars, the ET7 saloon and EL7 and EL8 SUVs, might also come here.

Nio already has a team in place in the UK tuning its cars for European roads and providing them with bespoke steering and suspension setups. The brand says this is because while customers in its home market of China prefer good shock absorption and will tolerate larger body movements in a car to achieve that, European drivers want better body control, even at the expense of a firmer ride.


Omoda 5 front driving

Models Omoda 5 Arriving in the UK Summer 2024

Who are they?

Omoda is owned by one of China’s largest car makers, Chery, which already has ties with Western car brands. Indeed, it was the joint-venture partner for Jaguar Land Rover, and produced the brand’s cars for the Chinese market. Omoda’s name is a combination of the chemical symbol for oxygen and ‘moda’, the Italian word for fashion. 

The first UK-bound Omoda model will be a family SUV called the Omoda 5, which will be offered in 1.6-litre petrol and fully electric forms – the latter offers an official range of around 280 miles, and will count the Kia Niro EV and Nissan Ariya among its key rivals. Deliveries are due to start this summer from a UK network of 64 dealers.

Further away, Omoda has plans to launch a range of new models encompassing petrol, plug-in hybrid and electric power.


Xpeng P7

Models XPeng G3, G6, G9, G7, P7 Arriving in the UK Autumn 2024

Who are they?

Think of XPeng as being the Chinese Tesla – this electric car brand was founded in 2014 and has backing from some of China’s biggest technology firms. Its cars are already on the road, with the G3 and G9 SUVs and the G7 saloon already available in several European countries, including Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

The first Xpeng model to arrive in the UK will be the G6 – an electric SUV rival to the Tesla Model Y. It’ll be offered in three guises – RWD Standard Range, RWD Long Range and AWD Performance. For more information, see our XPeng G6 review.


Zeekr X front driving

Models Zeekr 001, Zeekr X Arriving in the UK 2025

Who are they?

Owned by Chinese conglomerate Geely, which is also the parent company of Volvo, Zeekr will bring its 001 estate to the UK as early as 2025. That model will count the BMW i5 Touring among its rivals, and gets 536bhp thanks to its dual electric motors. The official range is quoted as a healthy 377 miles.

Soon after the 001 goes on sale, the Zeekr X SUV will join it. That model uses the same underpinnings as the Smart #1 and Volvo EX30, and gets 269bhp alongside a range of 277 miles.

The European car brands already under Chinese ownership

While Chinese car brands will soon be flocking to the UK, some are already here because they own other brands. Below we reveal the owners behind some of the brands you may already know.

Geely – owns Lotus, Polestar, Volvo, and part-owns Smart

Geely is one of China’s largest car makers, and as well as being the driving force behind some of the brands further up this list, it also owns or part-owns some of the brands you might already know.

In 2010 Ford sold its controlling stake in Volvo to Geely, reportedly at a loss. Alongside Volvo, Geely also owns Polestar. Volvo currently makes the EX30, EX40 and EC40 electric SUVs, alongside the XC40, XC60 and XC90 SUVs. Polestar, meanwhile, has the Polestar 2 electric car, but has a raft of new models, including the Polestar 3 and Polestar 4 SUVs on the way.

Lotus is also under Geely ownership, having been acquired by the Chinese giant in 2017. The brand’s first electric car, the Lotus Eletre, received three stars out of five on our road test, while its Lotus Emira sports car counts the Alpine A110 and the What Car? Award-winning Porsche 718 Cayman among its key rivals.

Geely is also a part-owner in Smart, with a 50% stake in the business, alongside Mercedes. While Smart had produced electric cars before, the brand’s Smart #1 electric SUV was the first to become a big hit, and is currently our favourite small electric SUV. In a similar vein, we gave the larger Smart #3 a full five stars out of five when we tested it earlier this year. A more rugged SUV, the Smart #5, is due to launch in 2025.

Blue MG3 front cornering

SAIC – owns MG

MG is currently owned by SAIC, but even prior to that was under Chinese ownership, because it was bought by Nanjing Automobile Corporation (NAC) following the collapse of MG Rover Group in 2005. That deal came to an end in 2007, when NAC was itself absorbed into the automotive giant of SAIC. Today, MG is SAIC’s main international brand, and counts the MG3 small car, the MG5 electric estate, the MG HS, MG ZS and MG ZS EV SUVs, and the What Car? Award-winning MG4 among its stable.

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