Huawei Technologies Co. plans to invest $1 billion in research into self-driving technologies and electric cars, accelerating its plans to compete with Tesla Inc. and Xiaomi Corp. in the largest vehicle arena in the world.
Huawei’s self-driving technology has already surpassed Tesla’s in some respects, such as allowing cars to travel more than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) without human intervention, rotating chairman Eric Xu told analysts on Monday. shenzhen.
The Chinese telecom giant will initially partner with three automakers to make self-driving cars with the Huawei name as a sub-brand, said Xu, one of three executives who take turns in the job.
It will keep its circle of partners small and put its logo on cars – much like Intel Corp. draws attention to its PC-based microprocessors – which adopt its self-driving technology, he added. The mobile phone giant has so far agreed to team up with BAIC Group, Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co.
“The smart car business unit is receiving one of Huawei’s largest investments. We will invest more than $1 billion in automotive component development this year,” Xu said. “China adds 30 million cars every year and the number keeps growing. Even though we don’t tap into the market outside of China, if we can earn an average of 10,000 yuan for each car sold in China, that’s already a very big deal for Huawei.
Huawei is coming off its toughest year on record, when Trump administration sanctions stifled its once-leading smartphone business and hampered advances in chipmaking and fifth-generation networking.
The Biden White House has shown few signs of letting up, prompting billionaire founder Ren Zhengfei to steer Huawei into new growth areas such as smart agriculture, healthcare and electric vehicles. He hopes to have a seat at the table with the tech giants vying to define the rapidly evolving fields of connected vehicles, homes and workplaces.
Huawei aims to join tech giants from Apple Inc. to Xiaomi in targeting the automotive industry, betting that future cars will become increasingly green, autonomous and connected. Sales of electric vehicles in China could soar more than 50% this year alone as consumers shift to cleaner automobiles and costs fall, research firm Canalys estimates.
Huawei’s information and entertainment features are already present in Mercedes-Benz sedans, and the company has partnered with domestic players such as BAIC BluePark New Energy Technology Co. to develop smart car systems. The first model of its partnership with the Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer, the Arcfox αS HBT, will be unveiled at Auto Shanghai in April.
“I don’t know if they were bragging, but my team said they could run cars without human intervention for 1,000 kilometres. It’s much better than Tesla,” Xu said on Monday.
But Huawei is cramming into an already crowded arena, where an array of automakers, from Tesla to local upstarts Nio Inc. and Xpeng Inc., are vying for a share of the world’s biggest electric vehicle market. Xiaomi – best known for its affordable gadgets and home appliances, from rice cookers to robot vacuum cleaners – last month unveiled plans to invest around $10 billion over the next decade in making electric cars.
Search giant Baidu Inc. and Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. would also team up to build vehicles.