By Nick Carey
LONDON (Reuters) - Chinese luxury electric vehicle (EV) maker Human Horizons will launch its premium HiPHi brand in some European markets later this year as the company looks to expand overseas, a top executive said on Thursday.
Co-founder Mark Stanton told Reuters the carmaker would announce which European countries it would enter at the Shanghai auto show in April, but said it would be in a couple of markets with higher EV penetration in western Europe or Scandinavia.
"We don't want to go out there and overextend ourselves and do too much too quickly," Stanton said. "We'll dip our toe in the water, then to start to build our brand."
He said HiPhi's connected EVs with hi-tech features will target "younger, more affluent and much more open minded consumers who haven't developed an allegiance to a brand like Mercedes or Porsche".
Human Horizons follows other Chinese EV makers into Europe, including Xpeng, BYD, Great Wall Motors and Aiways with five-star safety ratings. Stanton said HiPhi models have received top ratings in China and "we would expect all our cars to achieve five stars" in Europe.
The HiPhi brand currently sells its X SUV and Z sedan in China, with a range of up to 430 miles (692 km) and prices starting at around 620,000 yuan ($90,000). Stanton said sales this year should reach around 4,000 or 5,000 units.
The company will also announce a new lower-price, higher-volume premium model in Shanghai in April.
Stanton said HiPhi car features include facial recognition and projector headlights that can beam directions or warnings onto the road in front of you.
The car has no door handles. Owners can programme the doors to open as they approach the vehicle. They then close when the driver presses the brake pedal.
($1 = 6.8813 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Mark Potter)