Chinese telecommunications firm, Xiaomi, will make its debut in the country’s electric vehicle (EV) market in the first half of 2024.
Xiaomi is one of several smartphone manufacturers that have expressed interest in the fast-growing industry, amid stiff competition from a plethora of domestic players in the field.
Company CEO and one-half of the founding members, Lei Jun, broke the news at the ruling party’s annual “two sessions” legislative and administration meeting in Beijing’s Great Hall.
Xiaomi’s EV project was progressing “beyond expectations”, and that the winter testing had been successful, Lei told attendees. Lei has frequently drawn comparisons by local media with Apple’s founder, Steve Jobs.
The company had invested more than $434 million into its EV program since last year and could sink a staggering $10 billion into the project over the next ten years, the Xintao-born businessman said.
He also commented that Xiaomi needed to be a top-five EV player and ship close to ten million vehicles a year, if the brand was to succeed.
Xiaomi’s first entry into the EV marketplace is rumoured to be an electric sedan intended to compete directly with Tesla’s uber-popular Model 3 that retails for nearly $45 000.
Xiaomi EVs could come standard with BYD’s newly-created lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) blade battery, complete with 400-volt charging infrastructure, according to the Chinese EV blog, cnEVPost. Top-end offerings from Xiaomi will reportedly sport the beefier 800-volt platform.
The company has established a production hub in Beijing’s Yizhaung economic development zone, setting up shop alongside some of the country’s major manufacturing entities, including Naura Technology and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.
Xiaomi will face stiff competition in an EV marketplace that has become increasingly saturated with new players.
Sales on the mainland are predicted to fall by 30% this year – a sharp decline off the back of a fruitful 2022 that saw sales surge by as much as 114%, according to the South China Morning Post and data from the Chinese Passenger Car Association.
The Beijing-based firm enters the EV space at a time when the smartphone arm of its brand is floundering during the market downturn.
Chinese smartphone shipments fell to a reported 297 million units, falling below the 300 million unit threshold for the first time in a decade, according to SCMP.
Despite its own shipments dropping 20%, the Chinese smartphone giant is still the world’s third-largest vendor, with an estimated 13% of the market.