China’s Xiaomi introduced the first electric car, plans to become a top car manufacturer according to Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Xiaomi logo is seen at a Xiaomi store in Shanghai, China May 12, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

By Yelin Mo and Casey Hall

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi ( OTC: ) unveiled its first electric car on Thursday, immediately signaling its intention to become one of the world’s top five automakers.

Called the SU7, with SU standing for Speed ​​Ultra, the sedan is a highly anticipated model that CEO Lei Jun has touted as having “super electric motor” technology capable of accelerating faster than Tesla (NASDAQ: ) and Porsche electric cars.

But the car – which is likely to go on sale in a few months – debuts as China’s auto market – the world’s largest – struggles with overcapacity and slowing demand that have fueled a crushing price war.

That hasn’t stopped Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun from outlining big ambitions.

“Through hard work over the next 15 to 20 years, we will become one of the world’s top 5 automakers and strive to uplift the overall Chinese auto industry,” he said at the unveiling.

Those plans include building a “dream car comparable to Porsche and Tesla,” he added.

The SU7 is also expected to appeal to customers thanks to its shared operating system with popular Xiaomi phones and other electronic devices. Its drivers will have seamless access to the company’s existing portfolio of mobile applications.

“Xiaomi is a well-established consumer electronics brand with hundreds of millions of ‘Mi Fans,’ or members of their smart device ecosystem,” said Bill Russo, CEO of Shanghai-based consultancy Automobility.

“As such, they have a significant opportunity to break through when the automobile becomes a smart device.”

The SU7 will be available in two versions – one with a range of up to 668 km (415 miles) on a single charge and the other with a range of up to 800 km. For comparison, Tesla’s Model S has a range of up to 650 km.

The price has not yet been announced. Lei said the cost would be “really a bit high, but everyone will think it’s justified.”

In the middle of one of the coldest Decembers in China’s history, the SU7 was also positioned to appeal to consumers who were worried about winter. Lei said it has the ability to charge quickly in cold temperatures and is equipped with advanced technology that allows it to detect obstacles in challenging conditions such as falling snow.

Xiaomi’s autonomous driving capabilities would be at the forefront of the industry, he also said.

Lei’s ambitions failed to boost Xiaomi’s share price, but shares of the Hong Kong-listed company gave up earlier gains to end 0.3% lower.

China’s fifth-largest smartphone maker is looking to diversify beyond its core business into electric cars amid stagnant smartphone demand, a plan it first announced in 2021. Other Chinese tech companies working with automakers to develop electric cars include the telecom giant Huawei and search engine firm Baidu (NASDAQ:

Xiaomi has pledged to invest $10 billion in cars over a decade and is one of the few new players in China’s EV market to win approval from authorities, which have been reluctant to add to the glut of supply.

Its cars will be produced by a unit of the state-owned car company BAIC Group in a factory in Beijing with an annual capacity of 200,000 cars.

In China’s extremely crowded EV market, its biggest competition is likely to come from BYD ( SZ: ), which has a third share, while Tesla has 9%, according to third-quarter data from Zheshang Securities.