Xiaomi plans to begin mass-producing its EVs in the first half of next year, according to its founder, chairman and CEO, Lei Jun. It has been two years since the China-based tech giant revealed its EV ambition. Now all eyes are on its upcoming first model.
Lei is also a deputy of China's National People's Congress (NPC). He offered an update on Xiaomi's car project during one of NPC's sessions on March 5. Spending half of his time in the automotive business, Lei said Xiaomi's automobile R&D team has grown to more than 2,300 people.
Multiple news reports cited Lei saying the company has made more progress in building its vehicles than expected. It also completed the winter test recently. He added that Xiaomi aims to start mass-producing the cars within the first half of 2024.
According to China-based National Business Daily, a winter test is critical before an EV enters mass production and is introduced to the market. The test contains assessments for the battery management system, chassis and other components. Industry sources said Xiaomi is poised to begin producing its cars next year since it has finished the evaluation.
The company's financial results for the third quarter of 2022 showed it spent CNY829 million (US$118.8 million) on automotive and other innovations, a 35.68% increase from the second quarter. It invested CNY1.87 billion in the car project for the first three quarters of 2022.
With its prominence in the tech industry, Xiaomi's first EV model is highly anticipated. The vehicle is reportedly a sedan equipped with LiDAR from Shanghai-based Hesai Technology. CATL or BYD will likely supply the batteries.
According to National Business Daily, Xiaomi will position its EV as a medium-to-high-end product to achieve profitability. The company holds an advantage in integration and has many resources from its suppliers.
For the NPC this year, Lei submitted three proposals to the national legislature. All of them are related to the automotive industry.
China has seen more connected and intelligent cars collecting various data, including driving routes, biometric sensing, and external imaging. Lei said the country still needs to perfect regulations regarding automotive data security, verification and application.
According to NetEase, Lei suggested the government accelerate setting up guidance about automotive data life cycles for the industry, building a platform to benefit data-sharing.
He also said the country can lift certain restrictions on car tuning and on pickup trucks' right of way to build an innovative car culture in China. Moreover, Lei suggested the government encourage and assist the development of bionic humanoid robots, which are closely related to autonomous driving and other emerging technologies.
He added that China faces multiple challenges in this field. For example, the performance of a robot's core components still needs to be improved. The demand for applications has also not been strong enough to push the development.