Chinese consumer electronics giant Xiaomi unveiled its first electric car this week, with its boss declaring ambitions of becoming a global automotive powerhouse despite fierce competition at home.
Beijing-based Xiaomi, which is the world's fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer, is also a leading provider of tablets, smartwatches, headphones, and electric scooters.
The company announced in 2021 its intended foray into electric vehicles, joining a trend that has seen several major Chinese tech companies pivot towards the highly competitive sector.
Xiaomi boss Lei Jun took to the stage in Beijing on Thursday to unveil the SU7, a sedan that is scheduled to enter the market in 2025.
The four-door boasts a sleek design, with traces of Porsche Taycan in its profile and hints of Jaguar at the rear, and it has the power to play with the big guns on the market.
The range-topping dual-motor model, mischievously named “V8”, produces 495kW and can sprint from 0-100km/h in a shade under 2.8 seconds, according to claims. The carmaker also quotes a range of up to 800km between charges for the flagship sedan, which has an 800V electric architecture to allow for ultra-fast charging.
Clients will also be able to opt for a tamer “V6” model with 220kW and a 660km range, and a smaller 400V electrical system.
As for cabin tech, the Xiaomi SU7 is integrated with Xiaomi software to enable functionality across the company's range of devices, and will be produced by local car manufacturer BAIC.
"The goal is to become one of the world's top five automotive manufacturers through 15 to 20 years of hard work," Lei said.
"Xiaomi is a well-established consumer electronics brand with hundreds of millions of 'Mi Fans', or members of its smart device ecosystem," said Bill Russo, CEO of advisory firm Automobility.
"As such, they have a significant opportunity to break through as the automobile becomes a smart device."
The SU7's batteries are to be supplied by China's largest electric automaker BYD, as well as domestic battery giant CATL.
Many top tech firms in China - the world's largest automotive market - have invested recently in the country's EV sector, where foreign firms have struggled to take hold.
BYD was the undisputed leader of China's EV market in November with more than 300,000 models sold, coming in far ahead of Tesla's more than 80,000, according to figures from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
Founded in 2010, Xiaomi has achieved rapid growth through its strategy of marketing high-end devices at affordable prices, which were initially sold directly through online channels.
The firm was placed on a blacklist by the United States in 2021 due to alleged links to the Chinese military.
IOL & AFP