A unit of Beijing-based automaker BAIC Group has applied to regulators for approval to build two Xiaomi-branded electric vehicles (EVs), China’s industry ministry website showed on 15 November 2023.
The foray by Xiaomi, best known for making smartphones and appliances, could intensify competition in the world’s largest auto market, where overcapacity and slowing demand have fanned a bruising price war and hit supplier margins.
BAIC ORV is proposing to build two versions of the new Xiaomi-branded model in Beijing, according to its filing: the SU7 with BYD’s lithium iron phosphate batteries and a top speed of 210 km/h; and the SU7 Max with CATL’s nickel- and cobalt-based lithium batteries and speed of up to 265 km/h.
Both models bore a “MI” logo in the front and carried the “Xiaomi” name on their rear, pictures published on the Ministry of Industry and Information’s (MIIT) website showed. The filing indicates that BAIC will be the manufacturer for these two models, even though Xiaomi has built a plant that can produce 200,000 EVs annually in Beijing.
The new EVs will be built at a site that is the same address as the Xiaomi plant, China Business News reported. Xiaomi has listed many job openings for auto sales, including postings for new energy vehicles sales manager and Xiaomi car showroom manager in Beijing and Shanghai, business publication STAR Market Daily reported on Wednesday.
Both BAIC and Xiaomi did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the EV applications. Reuters reported in August that China’s state planner had given approval to Xiaomi to build electric vehicles but that it still needed clearance from the MIIT, which assesses new automakers and models for technical and safety requirements.
The ministry publishes lists almost on a monthly basis of aspiring auto manufacturers applying for approvals, but Xiaomi was not among firms named on the latest list published on 15 November 2023. The company’s progress on EV manufacturing is ahead of schedule, Xiaomi President Lu Weibing told a company earnings call in late August.
Its revenue fell 4% in the second quarter from a year earlier amid a shrinkage in China’s smartphone market. The world’s largest automotive market, however, is grappling with overcapacity and a deepening price war that has pulled in over 40 brands and is weighing on the supply chain’s profit margins.
Tesla Inc had yet to win a regulatory nod to proceed with its Shanghai plant expansion plan, Reuters reported in June. U.S. luxury EV maker Lucid Group, keen on made-in-China cars, has also been advised of the low likelihood for approval, sources have told Reuters.
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