Top 5 Chinese Car Brands You Never Heard of (and why Tesla is worried)

Introduction:

Throughout the world, there are hundreds of car brands that compete against each other, some brands that people have no idea of and some brands that everyone knows of. These car brands could be exclusive to one part of the world or sold worldwide. The global car industry expands each and every day with companies introducing new innovations and technology into new cars. Today, we will explore subtle car brands in China that others may need to learn of, which can rival the powerhouse of electric cars, Tesla.

1.  NIO

nio car design
People inspecting luxurious NIO design

NIO Company Overview:

  • NIO is a high-performance electric vehicle company that was established recently in 2014 by founder William Li (Li Ben)
  • Headquarters are located in Shanghai and is widely known in China for its reputation in innovative designs of its electric vehicles.
  • NIO’s primary vision is to create a joyful car experience paired with luxury and premium feels.
  • NIO’s vehicles focus on the capabilities of being long-range and also performance, giving an exhilarating feel when driving.
  • Their advanced battery technology rivals that of companies like Tesla.

NIO Achievements:

  • NIO has been known for its successful IPO (Initial Public Offering) on the New York Stock Exchange, an accomplishment for an Asian-based company.
  • Recorded annual revenue of $7.651 billion, a 7.24% increase year-over-year
  • Other than NIO’s vision, NIO has also completed over 10 million battery swaps since 2018, one of NIO’s innovative creations.
  • To date, NIO has delivered and sold over 200,000 vehicles, marking their presence in the car industry in China.
  • Furthermore, NIO has successfully entered the European market, another industrial powerhouse, and continues to expand its presence in the car industry.

NIO Specialties:

  • NIO’s specialties consist of their luxurious 7-seater fully electric, or hybrid, vehicles that consist of both performance and long-range capability cars.
  • Praised for their battery swapping technology, allowing users to replace their depleted battery with a fully charged battery in 3 minutes. This was revolutionary compared to traditional electric vehicle charging.
  • NIO has also been praised for its auto-pilot features, where the vehicle itself can drive on freeways without user operation, with fully-proofed and safe features.

NIO Popular Model:

  • NIO L60 and ET7
company logo and car design
NIO car’s luxurious and state-of-the-art interior design

2.  XPeng Motors

Company logo and sleek outer designs.

XPeng Motors Company Overview:

  • XPeng Motors was founded in 2014 by He Xiaopeng, a former Alibaba Executive.
  • Located in Guangzhou, China, XPeng Motors has been on the rise in the smart electric vehicle industry.
  • XPeng Motors focuses on smart electric vehicles paired with innovative and advanced designs.
  • The company works on a direct sales model, selling its cars to consumers directly.
  • XPeng Motors has been notoriously known for its affordability, high-performance, long-range, and highly advanced vehicles.
  • Key features of vehicles include electric-powered, auto-pilot, smart features, and advanced battery technology.

XPeng Motors Achievements:

  • XPeng Motors has been known for its induction on the New York Stock Exchange, raising $1.5 Billion in its initial public offering.
  • Boasts a revenue of $4.654 Billion in the last 12 months.
  • Since the induction of XPeng Motors, they have delivered over 200,000 vehicles and are still on a steady sales growth.
  • XPeng Motors has also expanded to the European car industry in Norway, a loud and proud achievement of the company.
  • XPeng has worked with companies like NVIDIA and Qualcomm to enhance their technology and auto-pilot features.
  • Given the award of “Red Dot Award Product Design 2021” for their P7 sedan and its exceptional design.

XPeng Motors Specialties:

  • XPeng Motors is proudly known for its affordability vehicles and its features like XPILOT, the company’s own autonomous driving system. Auto-pilot consists of advanced lane changes, automated parking, highway navigation, and safety driving features.
  • In-car features consist of voice commands, facial recognition, and fast wireless connection, giving a highly interactive car experience.
  • Highly innovative and advanced technological changes in the car, give a futuristic sense.
  • Also notoriously known for its battery technology, with super fast charging and long-range miles.
  • The company’s commitment to sustainability through reducing carbon emissions and energy-efficient production.

XPeng Motors Popular Models:

XPeng Motors P7 Sedan

xpeng motors interior car design
XPeng Motors’ sleek and comfortable interior designs

3.  Li Auto

Robust designs of Li Auto
Futuristic designs of Li Auto Vehicle

Li Auto Company Overview:

  • Founded in 2015 by Li Xiang, the company is based in Beijing, China.
  • Li Auto is a car brand that focuses on intelligent electric vehicles, particularly, range anxiety and superior user experience.
  • The business model consists of a direct sales model, selling to consumers online.
  • The company focuses on features like extended-range technology, intelligent systems, and autonomous driving and safety.
  • Popular electric vehicles of Li Auto are focused on luxurious features and amenities, paired with fully advanced technology that provides a sleek driving experience.

Li Auto Achievements:

  • In 2020, Li Auto raised $1.1 billion in its initial public offering in the Nasdaq Stock market, a monumental step for the company.
  • Annual revenue of $17.444 billion, with large expansions.
  • Since then, the company has expanded its production capabilities and invested a hefty sum into its research and development.
  • In 2020, Li Auto delivered 32.624 units of the Li ONE, one of Li Auto’s notorious cars, during its first full year of sales.
  • To the current date, Li Auto has delivered over 200,000 vehicles and is rapidly expanding.
  • Expanded their manufacturing facilities to Changzhou, which produces up to 100,000 vehicles annually.

Li Auto Specialties:

  • Li Auto primarily focuses on extended-range electric vehicle technology, adding a small internal combustion engine to generate electricity that adds to the vehicle’s range.
  • Uses advanced technology to reduce emissions during manufacturing and operation.
  • Specializes in safe driving features, with automatic emergency braking, parking assistance, and other features that provide a convenient driving experience.
  • Utilizes AI features such as voice commands, facial recognition, and fast connection to provide a seamless driving experience.
  • Luxurious interior features with premium car seats and features allow for a comfortable ride.

Li Auto Popular Model:

Li Auto L9

Luxurious interior provided with amenities such as TV and comfortable seats.

4.  BYD (Build Your Dreams)

BYD car designs
BYD Seal outer design.

BYD Company Overview:

  • Founded in 1995 by Wang Chuanfu, the company is based in Shenzhen, China
  • BYD primarily focuses on renewable energy and sustainable transportation solutions, developing innovative electric vehicles and advanced battery technology.
  • Develops technology in multiple sectors such as automotive, battery production, electronics, and renewable energy.
  • BYD operates in over 50 countries and is a global leader in different supply chains.
  • Cars focus on an electric and hybrid design, creating sedans, SUVS, and MPVs.
  • Popular models include the BYD Han, Tang, Qin, and the Dolphin.
  • BYD also creates electric buses, trucks, vans, and public transportation systems, with a large range of vehicles.

BYD Achievements:

  • BYD operates with an annual revenue of 607.09 billion yuan (CNY), which translates to around USD 84 billion.
  • BYD is a leading company in the electric mobility industry, beginning processes ever since the early 2000’s.
  • The company has successfully introduced a new battery technology, introduced the Blade Battery, a lithium iron phosphate battery in 2020.
  • BYD operates in countries like North America, Europe, Asia, and South America.
  • BYD has recently cumulated over 1 million units of EV sales, positioning it as one of the global leaders in the electric vehicle market.
  • Also one of the world’s major producers of solar panels, energy storage systems, monorail transit systems, and eco-friendly practices.

BYD Specialties:

  • One of BYD’s primary focuses is its battery technology, specifically the Blade Battery, which has been popular for its risk of battery fires and better performance of electric vehicles.
  • Their vehicle sector consists of public vehicles that operate with electricity, and their cars are built with luxurious and advanced features.
  • BYD continuously expands its research and development to improve its electric mobility and battery technology for vehicles, public vehicles, and solar panels.

BYD Popular Model:

BYD Qin PLus

BYD interior design of the Yangwang U8
One of BYD’s most popular vehicle’s interior designs.

5.  Wuling Motor

wuling motor compact vehicle
Small and compact EV Vehicle

Wuling Motor Company Overview:

  • Wuling was established in 2002 as a joint venture between SAIC Motor, General Motors, and Liuzhou Wuling Motors Co., Ltd.
  • Headquarters located in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China.
  • Operates primarily on affordable and practical transportation solutions, such as small commercial vehicles, regular cars, and electric vehicles.
  • The company expands their offerings to mini-trucks, microvans, and cars meant for the rural and urban areas of China.
  • Wuling has been known for its affordable vehicles that are appealing to consumers of all ranges and small business owners.

Wuling Motor Achievements:

  • Wuling Motors operates with an annual revenue of $11.534 billion.
  • They have been categorized as one of the best-selling electric vehicles in the car industry in China.
  • One of the well-known brands for affordable compact vehicles fit for all sorts, such as urban commuters with unpaved roads.
  • Wuling Motor dominates in the mini-truck and microvans industry and is a customer favorite.
  • The company also operates in Southeast Asia due to its popularity.

Wuling Motor Specialties:

  • The main focus is on affordable and practical transportation solutions, such as the Hong Guang Mini EV, where Wuling focuses on a compact design that is suitable for urban commuting on unpaved roads.
  • Wuling Motor also focuses on eco-friendly transportation solutions in urban environments, focusing on a diverse market of consumers.
  • Their electric vehicles are durable and known for their capabilities in any situation.

Wuling Motor Popular Model:

  • Wuling Motoor’s Wuling Hongguang Mini EV
interior design for Wuling motors
Interior design for an affordable vehicle at Wuling Motors

Honorable Mentions:

While there are only 5 Chinese car brands listed above, the list below also covers some major competitors that fit into this category.

Xiaomi:

  • A renowned leader in the EV vehicle industry with reports of 5-10% gross profit margin, a large number compared to Tesla’s decline.
  • Xiaomi has recently been deemed one of the best EV competitors in China, with over 70,000 vehicle orders.
  • The company is being compared to Tesla, as Xiaomi is getting close to Tesla in sales order and profit margins, being crowned a legitimate competitor.
  • Xiaomi’s company is expected to forecast an earnings per share increase of 25%, a large jump for their newly produced vehicles.

Xiaomi Popular Model:

Xiaomi SU7

xiaomi newly produced vehicle line
Xiaomi’s vehicle that rivals Tesla

Geely:

  • Privately owned automakers that focus on passenger vehicles, electric vehicles, and trucks.
  • Known for acquiring Volvo Cars in 2010 and enhancing its technology and brand.
  • Geely boasts an annual revenue of around $21.98 billion in 2022, a large revenue cap.
  • Recognized as a leading player in the global automotive industry and its expansion in research and development.

Geely Popular Model:

  • Geely L6
geely car design
Popular Geely vehicle

Great Wall Motors:

  • Primarily known for its development of SUVs and pickup trucks and its recent establishment of the ORA Brand, one of the most profitable EVs in China.
  • Great Wall Motors is constantly sought after by construction companies for their competitive and technologically advanced pickup trucks, exporting to over 60 countries.
  • Boasts an annual revenue of around $23.8 billion that is put into the advancements of its vehicles.

Great Wall Motors Popular Model:

P-series truck

great wall motor pickup truck design
One of Great Wall Motors most popular pickup truck

BYD outpaces Tesla:

  • As we have discussed throughout this blog, many car companies in China are constantly developing new features for their vehicles, whether that be electric charging in 3 minutes or the improvement of quality in vehicles, China’s car industry is expanding rapidly.

BYD’s turnaround factor:

  • BYD posted an increase of 21% in EVs sold, clashing against Tesla.
  • With the steady decline of Tesla vehicle’s quality, as discussed by many other individuals, it is apparent that China will soon surpass Tesla’s presence.
  • China car companies are tapping into foreign countries and investing more than ever in their research and development, with an annual EV sale of over 4.6 million units in 2023.
  • China boasts a lower production cost and, therefore cheaper vehicles, compared to Tesla.

China car brands are heavily expanding their battery technology, making their charging faster and lasting for longer durations, which will soon parallel that of Tesla.

BYD surpasses Tesla EV car sales
BYD overcomes Tesla in EV car sales

Conclusion

While Tesla is a leader in the EV industry in America, many foreign car brands are catching up to Tesla, whether that be in battery technology or car advancements, Tesla should be worried about competitors. These car brands rise from China, with China’s innovation and technology. Below, we will sum up the Chinese car brands that are rivals to China and why you should consider them.

  1. NIO, XPeng Motors, Li Auto, BYD, and Wuling are leaders in the EV industry in China, making up a large sum of revenue. Their technological and vehicle advancements rival that of Tesla, with BYD recently overtaking Tesla in EV sales in 2023.
  2. Cars from China have more luxurious features, longer battery life, better interior quality, and more technological advancements compared to United States EV vehicles.
  3. China’s lower production costs lead to cheaper vehicles that are equivalent to the United States powerhouses.
  4. Chinese car brands are constantly innovating their vehicle and providing more and more safety features and technology improvements.
A look at the top car brands in China via interviews.

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