Stock - Xiaomi
Image Credit: Bloomberg

Xiaomi Corp. co-founder Lei Jun may be busy launching new smartphones, but it seems he’s still laser focused on his carmaking ambitions.

The billionaire businessman has been asking friends in the auto industry for books to read to better understand the sector, according to a post he shared on Weibo, China’s Twitter-esque social media service. Lei is personally spearheading a $10 billion project to make Xiaomi-branded electric vehicles by 2024.

Xiaomi joins smartphone companies such as Apple, Huawei, OnePlus, OPPO, and Vivo - all reportedly nursing EV ambitions. However, no such vehicle has yet been launched.

Apple’s EV project has been shrouded in mystery, and reported setbacks.The world’s biggest company by market value plans to launch a car with full self-driving capabilities by 2025, Bloomberg News reported in 2021. Nothing was announced or revealed by the firm since then.

Huawei also announced EV plans in 2021, along with a $1 billion investment in smart car technologies.

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EV consumers rising

As of December 2021, there were 200,000 reported pre-orders for the Ford F-150 EV truck known as “Lightning” (priced at about $40,000) pick-up truck. With its battery, it can also power homes for three days in case of blackouts, Even high-end EVs, like the Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo (listed at $82,700) has a six-month-long waitlist. Tesla’s Cybertruck (base model at $39,900) got a reported 1.2 million pre-orders.

Tesla Semis to roll out in December

Tesla Inc. is starting production of its long-awaited Semi truck and will start deliveries from December 1, Elon Musk, the electric vehicle maker’s chief executive officer, announced in a tweet Thursday, saying the first semis would be delivered to PepsiCo Inc.

The truck is expected to cost $180,000, although it would qualify for a tax break of up to $40,000 under a U.S. subsidy program approved by the Senate.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduces the Cybertruck at Tesla's design studio Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, in Hawthorne, California. Image Credit: AP

Since 2015, Dubai has witnessed a significant increase in electric vehicle adoption across the city, with the number of registered electric vehicles increasing from 71 vehicles as of December 31, 2015 to 5,107 vehicles as of January 31.

In October, a fully electric sports utility vehicle (SUV) joined the supercar fleet of Dubai Police. The Hongqi E-HS9 is the first fully sports utility vehicle of the Hongqi brand with the functionality of an SUV.

What’s next for Xiaomi EVs?

The technology giant is eyeing a production tie-up with Beijing Automotive Group Co. to acquire a license to make cars after trouble getting approval from Chinese regulators. But it now needs to play catch up to rivals including other Big Tech players like Huawei Technologies Co. and Baidu Inc. as well as local automakers like BYD Co. and Nio Inc.

Lei remains undeterred. He said recently the EV business will be a key driver of Xiaomi’s continued growth, especially as profits wane amid a global smartphone slump. Or, in Twitter-speak: “The race is just getting started.”

- Inputs from Bloomberg, Reuters