Apple definitely isn’t the only major phone maker rumored to be designing electric cars. Reuters sources say Xiaomi plans to produce electric cars targeted at the “mass market.” Details of the EVs themselves weren’t forthcoming, but Xiaomi would reportedly integrate them with other products and manufacture them at a plant from Chinese auto giant Great Wall. The first model would arrive in 2023.
Official word could come as soon as next week, according to the tipsters. Both companies declined to comment.
The rationale might be simple: Xiaomi could diversify its lineup and make it more resilient. While it’s one of the largest phone brands in China, it operates on tiny profit margins and can easily succumb to short-term problems like recent chip shortages. EVs would give Xiaomi a more reliable source of income year-round.
The problem, of course, is that Xiaomi isn’t the only one with this idea. In addition to Apple, Huawei is also believed to be exploring cars. Chinese search company Baidu has already unveiled plans to make an EV with Geely’s help. Tech firms delving into the automotive world may seem like novelties now, but they could be relatively commonplace in a few years.
Xiaomi may bet on its ecosystem to draw people in. Founder Lei Jun is betting that the company’s experience with hardware design will give it an edge, according to one source. Unlike some of its rivals, Xiaomi makes a host of products beyond phones that include everything from smart TVs to rice cookers. It knows how to make a variety of devices, many of whom talk to each other, and that could be appealing if you’re already invested in the brand.