We have written about HiPhi exactly 0 (zero) times. It’s not exactly a household name, not even a doghouse name. But this electric vehicle newcomer is aiming to make a splash in its big entrance onto the market. It is opening with the HiPhi X, which has crazier doors than the Tesla Model X — and a lot more.
First of all, take a look at this picture and tell me if you can figure out what’s going on:
I didn’t think so. Here’s another shot:
Okay, it’s not rocket science, but you have to admit it’s weird, and surprising.
Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Here’s a short video walkthrough of this “evolvable super SUV” from HiPhi:
As you can see, it takes some design elements from the Tesla Model X and some from NIO ES8. Those are two of the most premium, hottest electric vehicles in China. HiPhi doesn’t settle for industry-matching “high-tech” and “luxurious,” though. It jacks the volume up from 11 to 20.
First of all, the doors don’t even want you to touch them — at all. The HiPhi X is “the world’s only touch-free entry, luxury SUV without door handles or mechanical lock cylinders,” HiPhi writes. Watch the video again for a glimpse of that — most visible at 17 seconds in. “All six doors in the NT Door system contain independent control modules, creating an intelligent system well beyond the simplicity of traditional mechanical structures typically seen in the automotive world. All six doors power-close with the push of a button. One need not crease their suit jacket or dinner gown whilst reaching to close the door.”
Clearly, they aren’t falcon-wing doors, but the portions of the doors and windows that pop up in the back to allow easier ingress and egress are reminiscent of the Tesla Model X. Whether or not the engineering on that really works in practice without creating air gaps or other consumer irritants is something I’ll wait for the market to demonstrate.
At this point, you may well be thinking what I was thinking: “Well, this has got to be just a crazy concept vehicle. This isn’t going to be produced for real human people.” Au contraire — this is for real! “HiPhi X is now entering the final phase of development and launch ahead of production which is expected to commence by the end of this year, with official deliveries in 2021.” So, yes, this thing may be insane, but it’s supposed to soon be a real consumer vehicle.
How do the doors open for you without you even touching them? That can be via facial recognition, a smart key, a smartphone ID, or the HiPhi app. The NT Doors then have 6 modes of ingress and egress and 360° proximity sensing, whether opening up as you approach the vehicle or after you press a button from inside to leave the vehicle. “With the omnidirectional intelligent sensing system made possible through both positioning and ultrasonic sensors, the HiPhi X can detect the user’s position, or objects, that may be in the path of the doors and adjust the opening angle accordingly. With the gentle press of a button the doors swing out in a safe manner with purpose and precision for ultimate convenience.”
How obsessed is HiPhi with the doors? Even the note about over-the-air software updates mentions them. “Continuously evolving: The HOA electrical architecture will allow over-the-air updates for improved or additional control of all electronic features from vehicle performance to seat control and UX interfaces.”
Are the doors the only smart or high-tech things about the X? Of course not. As you can see in the video above, screens are plastered across the front of the vehicle’s interior. There are running pedestrians in the taillights for some reason. And even the materials on some parts of the SUV look imbued with artificial intelligence, but they probably aren’t (probably). That’s just what my simple eyes told me. There’s much more.
“HiPhi X, the first model of the HiPhi brand, is positioned as a self-learning, supercar-inspired SUV, adopting the world’s first Human Oriented Architecture (HOA) enabling a secure, developer-open software platform. HOA comprises of 6 ‘super brain’ domain controllers, connected by 1G Ethernet, over 500 sensors, and a 5G-V2X technology network. …
“The HiPhi X also has a ‘neural network’ consisting of six ‘super brain’ domain controllers, connected by 1G Ethernet which provides a higher transmission rate than traditional CAN networks. That allows HiPhi X to analyse massive amounts of information and make decisions utilising cloud computing with a powerful data analysis engine.”
My favorite thing, perhaps, is the superb, elegant, uplifting lighting that jazzes up the side trim of the seats.
What about range and performance? The AI that has taken over my thought processes is glad you asked. There are two battery options. The larger is 96 kWh (it’s not revealed what the smaller is, but it is reportedly 84 kWh). The 96 kWh pack is said to provide up to 610 km (379 miles) of driving range on a full charge. The HiPhi X can scoot from 0 to 100km/h in just 3.9s.
Is there another vehicle that is more high tech than this? I think not.
I don’t see pricing. Suffice it to say, though: the model comes with a high price tag.
HiPhi is a full subsidiary of Human Horizons. It is the vision of Ding Lei, the former president of Shanghai General Motors. He launched Human Horizons at end of 2017. He is not to be confused with another Ding Lei, 8 years his junior, who bought Elon Musk’s 16,000-square-foot Bel Air, Los Angeles, mansion for $29 million in June of this year.
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