China’s Xiaomi dreams of building a car ‘as good as’ Porsche and Tesla

The Xiaomi (MI) Group office building is standing in Shanghai, China, on October 10, 2021. (Photo by Costfoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A Xiaomi office building in Shanghai, China, seen in 2021. The Chinese tech giant has revealed big carmaking ambitions.CFOTO/NurPhoto/Getty ImagesHong KongCNN — 

Xiaomi has unveiled its first electric car, just days after Huawei launched another one of its own, showing that the efforts of Chinese tech giants to join the electric vehicle race are beginning to bear fruit.

Xiaomi unveiled the SU7 sedan Thursday, two days after Huawei launched its Aito M9 SUV. The two companies have made their names as manufacturers of smartphones and other consumer electronics, but in recent years have revealed big ambitions in autos.

In 2021, Xiaomi announced that it would invest $10 billion over the next decade into a subsidiary focused on smart EVs.

Speaking at the launch event Thursday, CEO Lei Jun said the company was entering a “new decade” and hoped to become one of the world’s top five automakers in the next 15 to 20 years.

“It’s a new starting point for Xiaomi, and I’m convinced that one day in the future, there will be Xiaomis running on every road of this world.”

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During a three-hour-long presentation, Lei said the company wanted to create “a dream car that is as good as Porsche and Tesla.”

It quickly realized the uphill battle it faced, he added. “To build a good car, it is still very, very difficult,” he told the audience.

However, Lei suggested that after several years, Xiaomi had come up with an offering similar to Tesla’s Model S and Porsche’s Taycan Turbo, directly comparing the performance statistics of all three models on a slide shown onstage.

Mark Rainford, an automotive industry commentator based in Shanghai who hosts the YouTube channel “Inside China Auto,” called Xiaomi’s offering “a winner,” predicting it would sell well in China.

“It looks very compelling on paper, both performance- and tech-wise,” he said, noting that the car could easily connect with Xiaomi’s smartphones.

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By creating what is a luxury product, the company also appears to be targeting a different market, Rainford suggested.

“It’s clear they believe they’re a match (for) or even better than Porsche and Tesla’s flagship models, which is very ambitious for a brand most might consider a very strong consumer electronics brand but not necessarily perceive as premium,” he added.

Xiaomi did not reveal the model’s price at the event, though Lei said it would be “a little bit high.”

The company’s EV debut comes the same week as Huawei’s launch of the Aito M9, a six-seater vehicle priced starting at 469,800 yuan (about $66,500).

Customers are buying AITO M9 models at a Huawei store in Shanghai, China, on December 27, 2023. (Photo by Costfoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Customers are looking at Huawei’s Aito M9 model at a store in Shanghai on December 27.Costfoto/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Huawei said the SUV has “the largest space performance in its class,” and the company has incorporated premium features, such a projection screen designed to replicate the experience of watching a movie in a cinema and not cause motion sickness to the viewer. The vehicle also comes with seats that have massage functions, and double armrests to allow passengers to relax during rides, it added in a statement Tuesday.

The new vehicles add to China’s crowded auto market — the world’s largest — which has seen price war in recent months due to fierce competition and high inventories.

Last month, Huawei also launched an electric sedan that was designed to take on Elon Musk’s Tesla (TSLA).

— CNN’s Wayne Chang contributed to this report.

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