Apple Car rumors began resurfacing late last year. Suddenly, Apple’s purported plans to launch an autonomous electric vehicle of its own design were featured in an increasing number of leaks. They detailed the company’s intention to partner with an established force in the industry, with Hyundai-Kia being the frontrunner for the imminent Apple Car deal. Following the leaks, talks reportedly reached a hiatus, and other potential Apple partners appeared.
Sources claimed Apple was interested in designing its own vehicle rather than using an existing EV platform, and creating the software to power the self-driving experience. Reports also indicated that Apple was researching battery technology innovations that would increase the range of its electric cars. Official announcements are ages away, as the company rarely introduces new products before they’re ready to launch, and the Apple Car won’t launch before 2024.
Apple isn’t the only smartphone maker looking to build electric cars. Recent reports have said that Huawei is also contemplating similar moves that would help them diversify their portfolios. A brand new report from China says that Xiaomi is also about to embark on an EV venture of its own. Unlike the other tech giants exploring car projects, Xiaomi might officialize the plans as soon as next week.
Xiaomi took advantage of the US ban on Huawei to dethrone its rival in the smartphone business. The company looks to launch additional products on Monday, including its first foldable handset, which is rumored to feature the world’s first liquid lens camera on a phone. Other gadgets might be introduced during the show as well, as Xiaomi manufactures various consumer electronics. The list includes TVs, home appliances, and even scooters. An EV would benefit from that ecosystem, Reuters says, throwing fuel on the fire.
Xiaomi will partner with Great Wall Motor, three people familiar with the plans told Reuters. Great Wall builds trucks that are popular in China, having sold more than 1.11 million units last year. The carmaker said in an exchange filing on Friday that it had not discussed a partnership with Xiaomi.
Xiaomi will target its EVs at the mass market, with Great Wall providing consultancy to speed up the project. The first car would launch by 2023, with the partnership expected to become official next week. One of the sources told Reuters that Xiaomi’s founder and CEO, Lei Jun believes the company’s hardware manufacturing expertise will help accelerate the design and production of the electric vehicle.
Specifics about this first-gen Xiaomi car have not leaked. It’s unclear whether Xiaomi’s electric cars will also have self-driving capabilities. Apple’s first car is rumored to target driverless experiences, as Apple has been developing its self-driving software for years. Also, it’s unclear what price point and markets Xiaomi will target.