Huawei will make 1 billion 5G merchandise per year for Europe in Alsace, France

Judy Lin, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0


In an exclusive interview on France Inter News Radio, Minggang Zhang, the Deputy General Manager of Huawei France, revealed Huawei's first overseas factory will be completed in the northeastern Alsace region of France, in Brumath in Bas-Rhin.

"The factory construction is underway -- the ambition is indeed to produce 1 billion merchandise per year, with 500 jobs at stake in the long term. And Huawei is manufacturing in France to supply the entire European market," said Zhang.

He claimed that the factory in France will use sustainable materials and take environmental impact into account, using solar energy, and will be an "ultramodern factory of the latest technology".

According to the radio host, Huawei is investing EUR200 million in the project, which will create 300 direct jobs and is projected to start manufacturing 5G equipment in 2025.

In the interview, Zhang also addressed various aspects, including the challenge of the US sanctions, innovation, 5G challenges, and the company's diversified investments.

Claiming autonomy in chips

Despite a substantial 30% revenue loss due to US sanctions, Huawei has increased its investments in research and development.

Zhang said Huawei invested CNY22 to 23 billion until last year, 25% of its turnover, in R&D, including EUR80 million or more in research in France each year.

He claimed that Huawei is self-sufficient in chips, including those for smartphones. The launch of Huawei's Mate 60 Pro smartphone in late September made waves as various teardown reports showed that the Kirin 9000S chip inside the smartphone was manufactured with SMIC 7nm process, which used immersion deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography machines to produce advanced chips with multiple patterning on masks.

Zhang said the company also aims to provide core systems for cloud computing. Since advanced AI chips are also under the export control of the US government, Huawei is seizing the opportunity to supply its LLM-operating compatriots with specialized chips as an alternative to American AI chips made by Nvidia and AMD.

Zhang highlighted the company's diversification beyond telecommunications into automotive systems, cloud computing, and sustainable energy solutions. He noted the importance of these investments in driving Huawei's global digital transformation initiatives.

Huawei's role in the EV sector

While dispelling speculations about Huawei becoming a car manufacturer, Zhang clarified that Huawei is focused on supplying intelligent electric systems for electric vehicles. The company aspires to collaborate with global car manufacturers and extend its innovations beyond China.

When questioned about potential partnerships or plans with European or French car manufacturers, Zhang maintained confidentiality as he cited industrial and commercial secrecy.

The interview shed light on Huawei's resilience in the face of challenges, its commitment to innovation, and Huawei's strategic shift towards diverse technological sectors beyond its traditional telecommunications focus. Huawei continues to navigate global concerns, affirming its position as a player in the evolving digital landscape.

Not giving up on the EU market

Huawei finds France particularly appealing due to its rich and dynamic tech ecosystem, innovation culture, and the availability of a talented pool of researchers, according to Zhang. Emphasizing the significance of innovation, he highlighted Huawei's support for French startups through dedicated programs and the influential role played by France's tech community.

As Huawei faces challenges regarding its involvement in 5G infrastructure, particularly with security concerns raised by various countries, Zhang underscored the collaborative efforts with the Agence Nationale de la Sécurité des Systèmes d'Information (ANSSI) to establish transparency and trust. He discussed Huawei's commitment to abide by security standards and its ongoing collaboration with ANSSI.

Zhang denied that Huawei will pull out of Europe's 5G market. Instead, it is continuing to deploy 5G base stations with SFR and Bouygues, two major operators in France that are required to dismantle Huawei antennas in 2028.