Cellphone maker Xiaomi has EV market buzzing

Visitors look at a Mercedes-Benz at the 2024 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition in April. CHINA DAILY

As the newest Chinese electric vehicle maker, Xiaomi Corp has generated a buzz rarely seen in the history of the country’s automotive sector, with both huge excitement and some controversy.

The launch in late March of its first model, the SU7 sports sedan, attracted more than 40 million views on Sina Weibo, online exposure other carmakers only dream about achieving.

Weeks before the event, guessing the sedan’s price range had been a trending topic on China’s social media platforms.

The curiosity is understandable. The model is the first vehicle from any big phone manufacturer — Apple has canceled its car-making plans and Huawei insists that it does not make vehicles, although it sells smart driving solutions.

The venture also has an aura of mystery. Xiaomi’s CEO Lei Jun called the car project his final entrepreneurial venture, and the crowning of his extremely successful business career.

At an event three months ahead of the model’s launch, Lei promised it would be a “dream car” to rival Tesla and Porsche.

Though priced at around one-fourth of Porsche’s electric Taycan, which it resembles, the SU7, with the base model retailing for 215,900 yuan ($29,840), does have some eye-catching features. These include good acceleration, a minimum range of 700 kilometers, as well as an operating system that allows other Xiaomi products to work seamlessly with the car.