Xiaomi, the smartphone maker, unveils its first EV

Xiaomi’s billionaire co-founder, Lei Jun, officially presented the company’s first electric vehicle (EV), the SU7 (Speed Ultra), marking the tech giant’s ambitious entry into the EV market. Lei expressed his aspiration for Xiaomi to become a leading global carmaker within 15 to 20 years, challenging established players like Tesla and Porsche. The SU7, unveiled at the China National Convention Centre in Beijing, is designed as a five-seat sedan with unique features, including a remarkable 800-kilometer range on a single charge, adjustable spoilers, distinctive colours, and a top speed of 265 kilometres per hour.

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Lei emphasized Xiaomi’s vision of creating a premium EV that can compete with renowned brands like Porsche and Tesla. However, the regulatory landscape and market conditions in China have evolved since Xiaomi initially revealed its EV plans in 2021. Beijing has restricted manufacturing permits for new entrants, necessitating Xiaomi’s partnership with state-owned Beijing Automotive Group Co. for EV production. Additionally, state subsidies for EV purchases, which were advantageous for consumers, ended in 2022.

The SU7 faces a competitive market with numerous models from various brands. Lei’s previous statements positioned the SU7 as a competitor to Porsche’s Taycan Turbo in performance and Tesla’s Model S in technology features. The specific pricing details for the SU7 have not been disclosed, but Lei hinted that it wouldn’t align with some speculations on social media, indicating it might fall within the 200,000 to 300,000 yuan range.

Despite the challenges, Xiaomi is determined to make its mark in the EV industry, leveraging its gigacasting manufacturing process inspired by Tesla’s methodology. The SU7, set to go on sale next year, boasts impressive acceleration capabilities, going from 0 to 100 kph in 2.78 seconds. Lei highlighted the motor’s high revolutions per minute, surpassing those of the Model S and Taycan Turbo.

Xiaomi’s venture into EVs signifies a strategic shift for the company, known for its affordable smartphones, as it seeks sustained growth in a highly competitive global market. Lei aims to position the SU7 as a performance-oriented vehicle, catering to tech-savvy individuals with a taste for cutting-edge features. Xiaomi’s shares responded to the EV announcement with a 0.3% decline after an initial gain. Lei’s approach emphasizes not undercutting competitors but targeting consumers with a preference for technology, performance, and sophistication. The SU7’s anticipated launch in 2024 will further test Xiaomi’s ability to establish itself in the evolving electric vehicle landscape.