AITO M5. Credit: Seres
California-based Seres, a subsidiary of Chongqing Sokon Industrial Group, revealed that deliveries of the AITO Wenjie M5 mass-produced electric vehicle (EV), jointly developed by Seres and Huawei, are expected to begin in March 2022. The automotive businesses of Baidu and Xiaomi are also quickly progressing.
The AITO Wenjie M5 is the first EV model to be equipped with Huawei's Harmony OS smart cockpit. This model only took three months from issuing and selling to delivery. Industry sources said the fast turnaround is due to the assistance of more than 1,000 robots in its Liangjiang smart factory, where key processes are fully automated. Additionally, Seres' factory worked overtime during the Lunar New Year holiday. Currently, more than 1,000 test-drive and display vehicles have been delivered to retailers.
Huawei's participation in the product definition, quality control, and sales networking for the Wujie M5 has also helped speed up the delivery time. Furthermore, Huawei's involvement with the AITO Wenjie M5 is very evident, from Huawei's Harmony OS and DriveOne system to the exterior and interior design, functional configuration, audio, and home charging station.
From a business perspective, after the development of its consumer business was restricted, Huawei began focusing on the cloud, energy, and smart cars. For its car business, in addition to the Wenjie M5, Huawei is also working with Beijing Automotive Industry (BAIC Group), Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC Group), and China Chang'an Automobile Group (CCAG). Huawei plans to create sub-brands in the automotive sector with these three automakers.
For example, BAIC Group's Arcfox uses Huawei's smart driving solution, which not only includes core devices such as LiDAR hardware, but also Huawei's smart driving technology.
Fan Jingtao, executive deputy general manager of BAIC new energy, said that Arcfox and Huawei have a deep method of cooperation, jointly designing and developing the vehicle starting with the vehicle definition.
Wang Jun, head of business operations for Huawei's smart car solution business unit, revealed that the Arcfox Alpha S HI, which has been delayed repeatedly, will be delivered by the end of February 2022. In the past year, Huawei has developed nearly 300 partners in the smart car sector, exceeding expectations. These partnerships cover its iDVP smart car digital platform, MDC smart driving computing platform, and Harmony OS smart cockpit.
In 2014, Huawei established its smart connected vehicle center, and in 2019, it officially established its level 1 smart car solutions business unit. It has already launched more than 30 products, including an in-vehicle operating system, smart driving, smart cockpit, smart networking, smart electronics, smart car control, and smart car cloud services.
In 2020, Huawei invested US$500 million in vehicle R&D. By 2021, Eric Xu, Huawei's rotating chairman, announced it had invested over US$1 billion in its smart car business. Industry insiders expect that most orders for Huawei's automotive business will generate stable profits after 2025.
Xiaomi and Baidu are also making rapid progress in the automotive sector. Not long ago, Baidu and Geely jointly created the smart car brand Jidu and announced it had completed nearly US$400 million in series A funding. Jidu expects to launch its first automotive robot concept car in April 2022, and begin mass production and delivery in 2023.
Xiaomi founder Lei Jun said the progress of its car manufacturing has exceeded expectations and expects mass production to begin in the first half of 2024. Xiaomi's upstream and downstream layout of its automotive industry chain has also gradually become more robust, covering drive batteries, sensors, chips, automotive electronic components, and autonomous driving. It also includes industry leaders such as China Aviation Lithium Battery (CALB), Svolt Energy Technology, Hesai Technology, and Black Sesame Technologies.
Xiaomi recently led an investment in new energy vehicle (NEV) core component manufacturer Chilye Green Technology, completing series C funding of CNY100 million (US$15.8 million). Other participating organizations include Yonghua Captial, Oriza Holdings, and leading venture capital firms.
The funds raised in this round will be used on the R&D and production expansion of high-voltage connections and high-voltage distribution solutions for Chilye, which will also help make Xiaomi's NEV upstream layout more complete.