From mobile phones to cars, the big step of the Chinese Xiaomi

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“It will be the last major project of my life,” said Lei Jun, the 53-year-old Chinese billionaire who founded the consumer electronics giant Xiaomi in 2010. The project in question is to make cars, naturally electric and inevitably intelligent. intended for autonomous driving. Over the next decade he will invest the equivalent of 10 billion dollars and personally follow the operation with which he intends to bring to the market cars whose Chinese price should be between the equivalent of 12,500 and 37,000 euros, that is the maximum threshold for accessing the current public incentives in the Celestial Empire.

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Times are very tight: production should begin in 2024 and the first prototype should be exhibited by the end of the year. The British Dyson has already shelved the project to manufacture cars, while the Apple operation seems to be still standing, as well as that of Sony, which works together with Honda.

Xiaomi, whose turnover in the field of mobile telephony has benefited from the complaints to Huawei on national security by the American authorities, not only has knowledge and skills developed internally for hardware and software, but also specific technologies and products. . It also acquired DeepMotion which deals with artificial intelligence applied to autonomous driving.

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The goal, reiterated during a conference with investors, is to start mass production in the first half of 2024 and to start with the marketing of electric cars in China, the largest market in the world also for vehicles with zero emissions (the highest percentage penetration is instead in Norway). For the lines, Xiaomi would have relied on the Shanghai HVST Automobile Design, which had already signed the Maven concept of the Chinese WM Motor. At least for now, the company does not yet have a license of its own, but the authorities have confirmed the construction of a plant near Beijing with a capacity of 300,000 cars per year. The Bloomberg agency reported negotiations between Xiaomi and BAIC, a company that among other things controls 10% of the capital of Mercedes-Benz / Daimler, for a cooperation for production that could also involve Hyundai. Indeed, the Korean group has a joint venture with BAIC and is authorized to manufacture machines in China. Another hypothesis includes Borgward, the German brand that was to be relaunched with the resources of Foton Motor, but the operation was not successful and now the site near Beijing is stopped despite a potential of 180,000 units. year.

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