Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi took the wraps off its first electric vehicle on Thursday and promptly announced it was aiming to become one of the world’s top five automakers. The SU7 sedan is a highly anticipated model expected to make the most of its shared operating system with the company’s popular phones.
The car is scheduled to go on sale next year in China, where it will face off against established automakers such as Geely and Warren Buffett-backed BYD and upstarts like Nio and Xpeng Motors. But Xiaomi is betting that its software expertise can help it catch up quickly. Lei, the CEO of Xiaomi’s EV unit, said the company will focus on “experience and user experience” rather than trying to copy other cars’ features.
Xiaomi’s EV business will start with a $10 billion investment, allowing it to develop models for different purposes over the next ten years. The company said the money would be used to set up a wholly-owned subsidiary and hire engineers. It’s part of an avalanche of new investments in China’s booming electric vehicle market, which is seeing overcapacity and a slowdown in demand trigger a price war.
While many of these companies have heavily invested in research and development, some still need to deliver on their promise to buyers. And the wave of new model launches will pressure unprofitable companies to keep selling their vehicles and find a way to profit.
Xiaomi’s SU7 will be powered by an in-house motor, a battery built by CATL, and an 800V powertrain that can enable up to about 400 kilometers (250 miles) on a single charge. The company will also use its HyperCasting manufacturing technology, which aims to reduce production costs by reducing the number of steps required to produce the components.
The SU7’s motor can generate 21,000 revolutions per minute, more than Tesla’s Model S and Porsche Taycan, the latter of which can hit speeds of up to 272,000 rpm. It’s also expected to come with a full suite of advanced driver-assistance features, including automatic steering and parking assistance, and the company’s popular app that lets users remotely control their car and check its status.
Lei said the car’s design was influenced by user research, and it will be offered in two versions — an extended wheelbase version with a longer battery and a shorter version for urban driving. It will be available with a 101 kWh battery pack, allowing a top speed of 310 km/h. It’ll be sold in various colors and online at its official store and through other partners. The company hasn’t announced how much the vehicle will cost or when it will go on sale. However, the company will likely offer financing options similar to its smartphones.