Yet another Chinese smartphone maker is moving into the electric car industry, following the trend of tech giants sliding sideways into the rapidly transforming market.
This time it’s Xiaomi, which is not so much stepping into the industry as leaping into it with a pledge to invest $US10 billion ($A13 billion) over the next 10 years in a new EV business.
In a statement on the company’s website, Lei Jun, founder, chair and CEO of Xiaomi, said that he will front Xiaomi’s new EV business.
“The decision was made after numerous rounds of deliberation among all our Partners, and this will be the final major entrepreneurial project of my life,” Lei Jun said.
“I am willing to put all my personal reputation on the line and fight for the future of our smart electric vehicle! I am determined to lead my team to fight for the success of the Xiaomi electric vehicle,” said Lei Jun.
Although still only accounting for a little less than 5% of global sales, electric vehicles have disrupted the auto industry bringing with the advantage of closer integration between hardware and software, and a fresh approach to rolling out new features.
Tesla, which has spearheaded the new vanguard of the auto industry, has coined both of these in its OTA (“over-the-air”) updates which most recently has seen it roll out self-driving beta software to thousands of eagerly awaiting customers.
In its statement about the new dive into EVs, Xiaomi outlined why it thinks it is already perfectly adapted to joining the EV crowd, including its “deepest understanding” of internet-based service models, software/hardware integration, an already diverse product line-up (it makes smartphones, TVs, fitness bands, e-scooters and even lightbulbs) and most importantly, “abundant cash resources.”
“Smart electric vehicles represent one of the largest business opportunities in the next decade and represent an indispensable component of smart living,” Lei Jun said.
“Entering this business is a natural choice for us as we expand our smart AIoT ecosystem and fulfill our mission of letting everyone in the world enjoy a better life through innovative technology.”
The new EV business will operate under a subsidiary wholly owned by Xiaomi, and will compete in China against the likes of Tesla, Nio, Warren Buffet-backed BYD, Geely (the parent of Volvo and Polestar), and auto giants like SAIC, which owns MG.
China is the world’s largest electric vehicle market by volume, and it is expected that sales there will reach nearly 2 million in 2021, a 51% increase in sales compared to 2020.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.