China is putting a lot of focus on the new-energy vehicle sector, attracting high-profile auto and internet companies.
One company that is spearheading in the sector is smartphone maker Xiaomi.
Reports suggest the phone maker is plotting its own EV with founder and CEO Lei Jun heading the project.
Xiaomi had plans in an earlier project dubbed “Micar” launched in 2018 in a bid to explore EV production.
But their intentions go way back in 2013 says some report. Lei twice visited Tesla founder Elon Musk in 2013 showing interest to produce EVs back then.
According to the Global Times, China’s NEV sector has boomed in recent years.
In 2020, Chinese consumers bought 1.37 million EVs, up 11 per cent year-on-year says the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
Xiaomi is often dubbed “the Apple of China.” Just like Apple, its entry into the EV market could shake up the Chinese auto industry.
It is highly rated among domestic users and the expectations are high that it will produce a reliable EV.
Xiaomi is a believer in EVs and has made investments in home-grown EV brands leading the $400 million Series C of Xpeng Motors in 2019.
It has also backed Nio’s Series A in 2015 through Shunwei Capital, a venture capital firm founded by Lei.
Nevertheless, reports say the decision to invest in the EV market is not set in stone. The reports say everything can change in the long run.
The company is still exploring its options but analysts say the phone maker has a handful of technologies that could make the difference.
For example, they have an advanced voice recognition technology, working in partnerships with Geely and Mercedes Benz in 2019 for the adoption of its voice-activated virtual assistant.
On the other hand, China’s search giant Baidu is also extending its car ambitions from software to vehicle production.
The company said in January it will set up a company to produce electric vehicles with the help of Chinese automaker Geely.
Baidu says it will provide smart driving technologies while Geely will be in charge of car design and manufacturing.
Geely has recently announced it will start its own new-energy vehicle plant.