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Samsung buys stake in Chinese car maker because smartphones are so 2007

Samsung Electric Car

Samsung is well known for spreading its bets in the smartphone industry. Doesn’t matter if the future is curved displays, built-in projectors or your own operating system, because Samsung has researched them all.

The biggest name in Android phones is now diversifying its holdings outside consumer electronics, by purchasing a stake in Chinese car maker BYD. There may be some benefits to be gained by both companies — Samsung can bring its experience making semi-waterproof smartphones to in-car entertainment systems, and BYD gets something better than Apple CarPlay.

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Samsung hasn’t confirmed how big its stake will be or what it’s worth, but the company did confirm in a statement to Reuters that it’s interested in taking an active role in the future, and not just a monetary investment:

“The latest investment aims at strengthening electric vehicle parts and smartphone parts businesses for the two companies,” Samsung said. “We plan to discuss cooperation in various businesses going forward.”

Details surrounding the deal are scarce. Earlier rumors had Samsung’s stake at 4 percent, and said that the reason for the deal might be for Samsung to supply batteries for a BYD-made electric vehicle. Both of those rumors have been denied, but the battery story in particular would make sense.

BYD is only known as a fringe maker of electric buses in North America, but the company has a comprehensive lineup of electric cars on sale in China. A deal with Samsung, which has extensive retail experience in North America, might pave the way for a cheap Tesla rival sometime in the future.