Xiaomi’s first vehicle will be either an SUV or a sedan, co-founder and CEO Lei Jun told excited fans during a live-stream session on Tuesday evening.
The car, expected to launch in three years, is likely to have a price tag of between 100,000 yuan and 300,000 yuan ($15,000 to $46,000), Lei said during the open day live session on Douyin celebrating Xiaomi’s 11th anniversary.
“Xiaomi’s first car will not be a sports car or a motorhome; it would be either a sedan or an SUV,” Lei said, citing a poll on Weibo which showed that 45% of users voted for a sedan while 40% chose an SUV.
The Chinese smartphone maker, which announced its foray into the electric vehicle market last Tuesday, is planning to invest a total of $10 billion in the new venture. In addition to running Xiaomi, Lei will serve as the CEO of the wholly-owned subsidiary, calling it “the last major entrepreneurial project” of his life.
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Another poll showed that most users would prefer car models released under the Xiaomi brand itself, to which Lei responded the team has not made a decision yet.
Two-thirds of respondents expressed willingness to pay between 100,000 yuan and 300,000 yuan for a Xiaomi car, while only 8% of users were willing to pay more than 300,000 yuan.
“Xiaomi fans hope we can produce a mid-to-high range vehicle,” Lei said. However, planning of various technical aspects such as battery sourcing, recruitment, automobile design and manufacturing are still in early stages and no decision has been made yet regarding the market range, he added.
Lei noted that many Xiaomi employees were very enthusiastic about the company’s new venture, saying that a number of developers have applied for internal transfers to the new car manufacturing unit. The company previously announced plans to hire an additional 5,000 engineers this year.
Xiaomi, currently the world’s third-largest smartphone maker, faces significant competition in the already crowded domestic EV market. It will directly compete with home-grown startups Xpeng, NIO and Li Auto, as well as US carmaker Tesla, which currently dominates the country’s premium EV sedan market.
However, with deep pockets and a wealth of experience in developing smartphones and smart home technologies, analysts believe Xiaomi is well positioned to take on the challenge. The company has previously stated it possesses 108 billion yuan in cash reserves as of 2020.
Apart from investing in Xpeng, NIO and related technologies, Xiaomi has since 2015 filed a list of patent applications including cruise control, navigation, assisted driving and other car-oriented technologies. Its Xiaoai virtual assistant system has already been implemented via a range of strategic cooperations, including in Mercedes-Benz vehicles and FAW Group’s special-edition model of the Bestune T77 crossover.