The Chinese electric vehicle segment has exploded in recent years with major players like BYD, Geely, SAIC-GM-Wuling — a partnership between SAIC Motor, GM, and Liuzhou Wuling Motors Co — and other leading the charge. In 2021, China accounted for over half of the world’s production of EVs and led the global marketplace in all-electric vehicle exports. For the last eight years, China has remained the largest market for EVs — in 2022, eight EVs sold in China for each single all-electric model sold in the U.S. China’s dominance on the global EV market can be attributed to several factors, including its early investment into electric cars, extensive government support through subsidies and tax breaks, and its role in spearheading battery technology.
However, the models that make up the Chinese EV market remain forbidden fruit in the U.S., although some companies have shared an interest in joining the American automotive fray. But until such moves are finalized, those interested in EV models across the Pacific will have to wait, or travel, to get behind the wheel. In the meantime, we can assess what the Chinese EV market holds, and there are certainly some intriguing models piquing the interest of enthusiasts.
10 Aion Hyper SSR
Front three-quarters shot of the Aion Hyper SSR
A neck brace is not included on the features list of the Aion Hyper SSR, but with its neck-breaking acceleration, one ought to be. The Hyper SSR and SSR Ultimate earned a laundry list of headlines earlier this year when the automaker claimed the low-slung electric supercar would rip from 0-60 in just 1.9 seconds. That puts the Hyper SSR on par with the Rimac Nevera for the production car acceleration record, and the Aion can be had for under the equivalent of $200,000, about one-tenth of the $2.2 million the Rimac commands. The Hyper SSR also has other features to get the heart racing like scissor doors, a carbon fiber splitter, and a low and aerodynamic design. The Hyper SSR is expected to go on sale later this year.
9 YangWang U9
Aerial shot of the Yangwang U9
Though the majority of the Chinese EV market is relatively sedate, the new YangWang U9 is an all-electric supercar that will shake up the market alongside the Hyper SSR. YangWang is the luxury division of industry-leader BYD, and the company recently unveiled its wild-looking supercar which uses a “Gate of Time and Space” design language that makes it look like no other super-EV on the road. The U9 was just unveiled in February, so we don’t yet know many details. However, YangWang did claim a hugely impressive 0-60 time of just two seconds, just 0.1 seconds slower than the Aion Hyper SSR. Though the U9 hasn’t yet been fully unveiled, it is already an all-electric supercar we certainly want to get our hands on.
8 BYD Han
2023 BYD Han parked in front a building
BYD, which stands for “Build Your Dreams,” produces a wide range of EVs from cars to bicycles and buses. But recently, the automaker unveiled its new flagship sedan, the Han, where it will compete directly against the major American player in the Chinese EV market, Tesla. The Han is a midsized luxury sedan that is offered in three electric models with prices ranging from about $30,000 to $40,000 USD. In addition to its attractive price, the Han has a driving range of up to 376 miles according to the NEDC test cycle. For enthusiasts, the company also claims it is the fastest Chinese EV in production with a 0-60 time of 3.9 seconds. It also features a long list of tech like adaptive cruise control, a 15.6-inch display, and an NFC mobile phone key function.
7 Zeekr 009
Front three-quarters shot of a Zeekr 009
Though there is a strong stigma around minivans in the U.S., that’s not the case in China, where vans are heralded for their practicality and, in many cases, their luxury. One such example is the Zeekr 009, an electric minivan that bears little resemblance to the Chrysler Pacifica, Toyota Sienna, and other vans available here. For starters, the 009, has an imposing presence with its boxy and futuristic styling. It also will tear the doors off any American-spec minivan with a whopping 536 horsepower and a range of over 500 miles, according to Geely, Zeekr’s parent company that also owns Lotus and Volvo. On top of its impressive performance and practicality, the 009 is highly luxurious with a tech-laden cabin and features like massaging second-row captain’s chairs, a 20-speaker Yamaha sound system, and other luxury appointments.
6 Aion LX Plus
Aion LX Plus in a dealership
Manufactured by GAC, the Aion LX Plus is the premier version of the automaker’s LX lineup, and the model features some impressive specs. The top model, the Thousand Miles Edition, is fitted with a sizeable 144kWh battery pack with a manufacturer-claimed driving range of 625 miles according to NEDC testing, undoubtedly helped by its solar panel roof and energy density of 205 Wh/kg. Impressively, the LX Plus delivers this range with a silicon anode sheet inside the battery to reduce the size and weight of the battery. The LX Plus uses a single-motor powertrain that offers 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and will run from 0-60 in a claimed 7.8 seconds. Though the performance specs aren’t earth-shattering, the Aion’s impressive driving range puts it ahead of the Lucid Air Sapphire’s 516-mile range, though under EPA testing the Aion would almost assuredly fall below its 625-mile range.
5 YangWang U8
Yangwang U8 driving off road
While YangWang unveiled its supercar earlier this year, it also showcased its upcoming off-roader, the U8, which also packs a seriously impressive punch that can tackle all terrains. The U8, which resembles a Land Rover Defender 130 in both looks and size, is an all-electric, all-terrain beast built on a full ladder frame. It features a quad-motor setup with a combined output of 1,100 horsepower that will reportedly launch the hulking SUV from 0-60 in three seconds. The U8 will also reportedly have a “tank turn” function like that of the upcoming Mercedes EQG, with a “floating water mode” for traversing water. The upcoming model is set to start at the equivalent of $118,000.
4 Nio ET7
Nio ET7 parked in front of a building
China is a major market for Tesla, and one of the domestic companies taking on the American automaker is Nio, particularly with its Model-S-rivaling ET7. The automaker’s flagship sedan features a dual-motor, AWD system with three lithium-ion batteries from 70-150 kWh and an NEDC-rated electric driving range of 310-621 miles. The dual-motor setup has notable power with a combined output of 644 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque that will scoot the sedan from 0-60 in as little as 3.8 seconds. The ET7 also features a LIDAR autonomous driving system, a 23-speaker audio system, dual digital displays, 5G connectivity, and a host of other luxury features. The sedan starts at $69,200, making it an attractive option in the luxury sedan EV segment.
3 Xpeng G3i
XPeng G3i drives along a road
When finding out more about an automotive market, it’s also crucial to look beyond the luxurious and sporty offerings. Getting behind the wheel of more mainstream models can also give you a good idea of where a segment is heading, and that’s why we’d like to get behind the wheel of the Xpeng G3i. The G3i is a compact SUV that starts at just about $25,000 and features a long list of cool features like a panoramic front windshield that stretches all the way to the rear of the car, two-tone paint, a semi-autonomous driving feature, and a 15.6-inch touchscreen. Additionally, the little all-electric SUV offers between 285-322 miles of range according to NEDC testing.
2 Zeekr 001
Zeekr 001 on a showfloor
The second Zeekr model on our list is the automaker’s flagship 001 sedan, which could be confused for a Porsche Taycan from a distance but has impressive specs in its own right. The updated luxury sedan is fitted with a 140kWh battery that is rated for up to a seriously notable 641 miles of driving range from a single electric motor with an output of 286 horsepower. Those wanting some more oomph can opt for the dual-motor setup that ups the ante to 536 horsepower and will scoot the 001 from 0-60 in 3.8 seconds. On top of its impressive range and performance, the 001 features an attractive cabin that can be decked out with an orange and gray Alcantara interior with eye-catching trim. The model also features a tablet-like center display, a digital gauge cluster, Brembo six-piston calibers, 22-inch wheels, and other premium features.
1 Ora Good Cat
Front three-quarters shot of a Ora Good Cat GT
The Ora HaoMao, or “Good Cat,” may not have the impressive specs of the other models on this list, but its funky, youthful styling makes us want to have a drive in this little five-seat hatchback. And though its name may be too cutesy for many, it does add to its cheerful outward character. Produced by Great Wall Motors’ electric division, Ora, the Good Cat is a fairly basic EV city car with 140 horsepower and a range of 248 miles. But we like its Porsche Panamera-esque front end and overall styling that seems to blend bits of the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500 along with its available bright, two-tone paint colors. The Good Cat may not be a “Great Performer,” but it certainly has charm.