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Huawei: from cell phones to four wheels (electric, of course)

Huawei will unveil its first electric vehicle at the Shanghai Auto Show 2021

Huawei EV

It’s official. Electric cars are all the rage in China, and tech manufacturers are switching from cell phones to electric vehicles. Some, like LG, have even announced that they will leave the phone business as early as July 2021 to focus on automotive. Others such as Huawei have been working in secrecy in order to present their first vehicle, an EV of course, at the Shanghai auto show.

There seems to be a migration towards this new sector that sees three of China’s leading cell phone manufacturers opening up to this sector, counting on long-range ideas and industrial plans. It should also be considered that Chinese technology companies have intensified their focus on electric vehicles as Beijing heavily promotes the concept of “green” as a means to reduce air pollution.

Sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs), including pure battery electric vehicles, as well as plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cells, are expected to make up 20 percent of China’s total annual auto sales by 2025.

Relationships with the United States

For Huawei, specifically, after nearly two years of U.S. sanctions that cut off its access to key supply chains, forcing it to sell off part of its smartphone business to keep the brand alive, Huawei appears to have found a new key to access Western markets. If the privacy issue, which had driven American restrictions, towards the Chinese giant, the EV business should give the company a new boost, or generate new controversy.

This will be one of the areas where the new Biden administration will have to give the commercial green light and revise the restrictive policies issued by its predecessor.

An open business model

The new vehicle will not be branded directly Huawei, but will have its own identity, based on the experience of the manufacturer Arcfox and the model will be called Alpha S HBT.

Richard Yu, head of Huawei’s consumer business group that led the company to become one of the world’s largest smartphone makers, is expected to hold key positions in the new business unit.

Huawei’s ambitious plans to manufacture its own cars will see it join a number of Asian tech companies that have made similar announcements in recent months, including Baidu Inc and Foxconn.

Huawei has been developing a range of technologies for electric vehicles for years, including in-car software systems, in-car sensors, and 5G communications hardware.

The company has also formed partnerships with automakers such as Daimler AG, General Motors Co and SAIC Motor to jointly develop smart car technologies, so the electric vehicle concept does not stop at home-grown models, but aims to extend across the automotive industry.

What technologies are waiting for us?

According to China’s patent records, Huawei has been granted at least four patents related to electric vehicles, including methods for charging between electric vehicles and monitoring battery health.

Those expecting only the participation of Xiaomi in the EV race will have to witness a far more massive charge from Asia’s largest country.