Human Horizons sounds like a name we might have (possibly, kinda, maybe) heard before in the automotive space, but that thought quickly fades. In truth, we probably have not, and its familiar ring may have something to do with how it sounds when uttered in the same breath as Faraday Future.
Unsurprisingly, the name belongs to (yet another) wide-eyed EV-maker from China looking to upend the industry with its futuristic vision of personal or shared zero emissions transportation. In their case, even the vehicle pitched to be this revolutionary machine looks very much like the promising-but-ultimately-doomed FF91 with its long wheelbase, sleek MPV-esque profile, and short overhangs.
Chairman and co-founder Ding Lei has plenty of industry leadership expertise with a resume that includes some high ranking posts within General Motors and Ford, both within their China arms. Meanwhile, the technical team behind the HiPhi 1 prototype also happens to be Mark Stanton, the former head of Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations division.
From the looks of it, and given the spectacular implosion that was the Faraday Future experiment, the HiPhi 1 might be the closest that design will ever get to a production reality. Of course, Human Horizons will have a tough journey ahead of them to reach that point in an industry littered with the corpses of failed EV startups just like it.
The Jaguar connection is somewhat apt too seeing as I-PACE will be one of the HiPhi 1’s primary competitors along with the Model X. In fact, the ‘1’ even manages to crib one of the Tesla SUV’s most recognisable features. Its own execution of the ‘gullwing’ on its second row merely functions like a centrally-hinged sunroof, though, but adds drama to its rear suicide doors.
Once inside, the HiPhi 1 reveals its truly large and airy cabin, managing to fit a total of 6 full size seats over 3 rows. Overall, trim surfaces are clean and designed with a certain fashionable sterility that’s rather common in EV prototypes.
As typical with these future-facing vehicles, there is just no tolerance for anything analogue if it can be replaced by a digital alternative. Therefore, the only tactile controls seem to be the steering wheel, side stalks, and foot pedals. Every other function is controlled by - you guessed it - a touchscreen and/or gesture or voice control.
There’s even a large and dominating infotainment display directly ahead of the front passenger for them to be enthralled by. And each interface is driven by a powerful central processor that also manages the 5G connectivity, vehicle-to-X communication, and even Level 4 autonomous drive capability.
Being a fully electric vehicle, the HiPhi uses a large array of lithium-ion batteries to store electricity. These floor-mounted units are not detailed in terms of capacity or packaging, but should be on par with the I-PACE and Model X in terms of maximum range.
At each axle sits a 200kW electric motor for some brisk performance. Of course, no numbers were yet provided by Human Horizons, though they did mention that he HiPhi 1 was ‘supercar-inspired’ for all that’s worth, suggesting some proclivity toward driving thrills.
Should it reach showrooms, we can’t imagine anyone really turning to it in search of spirited drive, and given how much weight those battery packs must carry, we imagine that the sound of tortured tyres and understeer will pepper the aural experience.
However, what is undeniable is that automotive landscape is in flux with established automakers and new upstarts both vying for a slice for a slice of it once it hardens into its next form. If Human Horizons has the innovation and fortitude to weather that storm for a chance at glory, why shouldn’t they be allowed to challenge Tesla, Rivian, or Volkswagen?