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Smartphone maker Xiaomi will launch five-seater EV next year

Image Courtesy: CarNewsChina

Smartphone company Xiaomi is getting into electric vehicles, according to filings released by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), which is responsible for evaluating the safety of new automakers.

Images show the EV will be a five-seat sedan with a panoramic glass roof. It will likely be branded 'Beijing Xiaomi SU7'.

Xiaomi has built a plant of capacity 200,000 EVs per annum at Beijing, but the company won't manufacture the SU7. That will be done by state-owned company Beijing Automotive Group Co, which has applied for permissions to build two variants of the same model.

One variant of the SU7 will come with BYD's lithium iron phosphate batteries and have a top speed of 210 kmph, while the higher-end variant, dubbed SU7 Max, will sport nickel- and cobalt-based lithium batteries from CATL and reach a top speed of up to 265 kmph. Images published by MIIT showed both models carrying Xiaomi's familiar 'MI' branding at the front and the full 'Xiaomi' name at the rear. Reports say the vehicles will also have the option to install sensing technology (known as lidar) on the top of its windscreen, which will offer advanced assisted driving for people behind the wheel. Deliveries are expected to start early next year. 

Xiaomi is one of China's largest consumer electronics brands, which could give it formidable clout in the new business. The increasing integration of 'smart technologies' such as voice control and assisted driving into EV systems is likely to further benefit the company by playing into core strengths from its mobile operations.

Xiaomi has already modified the operating system on its smartphones and other home appliances to allow for inclusion of EVs in the future, so that customers can control all their Xiaomi products on a unified platform. The company says its MI-branded EVs are a critical link in company plans to create "an all-around ecosystem" for its customers.

But gaining market share in China won't be easy. The Middle Kingdom's EV market is already crowded with a clutch of homegrown players such as BYD, Geely, Great Wall and Xpeng, in addition to foreign marques others such as Volkswagen.

Competition is fierce, and the market is only just coming out of a price war triggered by Tesla, although the Elon Musk-led company recently hiked prices signalling the end of cheaper EVs.

Xiaomi's foray into EVs marks the latest in technology companies exploring the new business vertical. Compatriot Huawei Technologies is doing the same through a multi-partner strategy -- earlier this month it began accepting preorders for its Luxeed S7 sedan, developed with Chinese automaker Chery even as the company has agreements with Changan Auto -- while Foxconn, which assembles the iPhone, has set up EV facilities in Vietnam. 

Image Courtesy: CarNewsChina

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