Huawei to make potential shift to EVs, may launch cars this year: Sources

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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Chinese multinational technology company Huawei is reportedly planning to make electric vehicles (EV) under its own brand and could launch some models this year, as the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, thrashed by the US sanctions looks for a strategic shift.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Huawei Technologies is currently conducting discussions with Chinese state-owned Changan Automobile and other automakers to use their car plants to make its EVs as well as Beijing-backed BAIC Group’s BluePark New Energy Technology. 

The plan reflects a potentially significant shift for Huawei’s business operations, after nearly two-years of US sanctions that have cut its access to key supply chains, forcing it to sell a part of its smartphone business to keep the brand alive.

The Trump administration had blacklisted Huawei in concerns of national security. Many industry executives see little chance that blocks on the sale of billions of dollars of US technology and chips to the Chinese company, which has denied wrongdoing, will be reversed by his successor.

Meanwhile, a Huawei spokesman denied the information by stating “Huawei is not a car manufacturer. However, through ICT (information and communications technology), we aim to be a digital car-oriented and new-added components provider, enabling car OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to build better vehicles.”

As per the sources, Huawei has already started designing the EVs and approaching suppliers at home intending to officially launching the project as early as this year. Richard Yu, head of Huawei’s consumer business group who led the company to become one of the world’s largest smartphone makers, will shift his focus to EVs.

Chongqing-based Changan, which is making cars with Ford Motor refused to comment on the matter. BAIC BluePark also did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Growing EV market

Chinese technology firms have been stepping up their focus on EVs in the world’s biggest market for such vehicles, as Beijing heavily promotes greener vehicles for reducing air pollution.

As per reports, the sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs), including pure battery electric vehicles as well as plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, are projected to make up 20 percent of China’s overall annual auto sales by 2025. For 2021, the NEV sales of China are forecasted to reach 1.8 million units, up from about 1.3 million of last year.

Huawei’s ambitious plans to make its own cars will see it join a raft of the US and Asian technology companies that have made similar announcements in recent months, including Amazon, Alphabet, Baidu and Foxconn

Huawei has been developing several technologies for EVs for years including in-car software systems, sensors for automobiles and 5G communications hardware. The company has also formed partnerships with automakers like Daimler, General Motors and SAIC Motor to jointly develop smart auto technologies.

According to official Chinese patent records, Huawei was awarded at least four patents related to EVs this week, including methods for charging between electric vehicles and for checking battery health.

Huawei’s push into the EV market is currently separate from a joint smart vehicle company it co-founded along with Changan and EV battery maker CATL in November, sources said.

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