Xiaomi Unveils Its First EV, the SU7, With Ambition to Be China’s Porsche or Tesla


The billionaire co-founder of Thursday, declaring ambitions to become a top global carmaker in 15 to 20 years and compete against Tesla Inc. and Porsche AG. The SU7, which stands for Speed Ultra, rolled onto a stage at the China National Convention Center in Beijing with no drivers visible, ending a presentation by CEO and co-founder Lei Jun in front of thousands of people. 

Lei spent hours detailing the car’s features, which include a range of up to 800 kilometers (500 miles) on a single charge, adjustable spoilers, unique colors and a top speed of 265 kilometers an hour. 

The five-seat sedan will be powered by batteries from Chinese market leaders Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. and BYD Co., depending on whether it has a single or dual motor configuration.

Xiaomi’s EV foray is a $10 billion wager by Lei that his company can shake up the transport sector much as it did smartphones a decade ago. Lei, also a prolific venture investor, has called it his final entrepreneurial bet. 

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“Xiaomi’s goal is to make a dream car that is as good as Porsche and Tesla,” Lei said Thursday at the launch event.

But in the time since first announcing his EV plans in 2021, the regulatory landscape and competition in China — the world’s biggest car market — have changed significantly. 

Beijing has been limiting manufacturing permits to new market entrants, which means Xiaomi has to partner with state-owned Beijing Automotive Group Co. to produce its EVs. State subsidies that reimbursed consumers with as much as 60,000 yuan ($8,440) for an EV purchase ended in 2022. The SU7 is also vying for attention in a market that has hundreds of models from dozens of brands.

Lei has previously said Xiaomi intends the SU7 to rival Porsche’s Taycan Turbo in terms of performance and Tesla’s Model S in technology features. The Model S starts at 698,900 yuan and the Taycan at 898,000 yuan, which is much higher than the medium price bracket of 200,000 yuan to 300,000 yuan that many expect the SU7 to fall into. 

Xiaomi hasn’t yet said how much the SU7 will cost. Lei hinted that it wouldn’t be 99,000 yuan as some on social media had joked. Cars with the same specs often go for 400,000 yuan or more, he said. 

Tesla has sold fewer than 200 Model S cars in China since revamping it this year, while Porsche has delivered about 3,600 Taycan family EVs in the country in 2023, according to the China Automotive Technology and Research Center.

The SU7 is due to go on sale next year and can go from 0 to 100 kph in 2.78 seconds, Lei said. It will come with a motor that has 21,000 revolutions a minute, which he said is higher than the Model S and Taycan Turbo. Xiaomi’s factory uses gigacasting manufacturing pioneered by Tesla, developing a 9,100 ton system that it calls hypercasting.

Xiaomi, once known as a producer of cheap smartphones, has been fighting to sustain growth in an increasingly saturated and plateauing global market. Before the September quarter, the company had posted a sales decline in every three-month period since 2021. Now, it is seeking to challenge not just other EV makers but also newer entrants like Huawei Technologies Co. in an arena where it has demonstrated little unique expertise. 

Lei said he had driven 150 different cars since committing to making the SU7. 

Xiaomi’s shares gave up earlier gains to fall 0.3% Thursday afternoon. They rose 4.1% Wednesday. 

Lei, who has dubbed the SU7 a “performance beast” on X, has signaled Xiaomi won’t resort to undercutting competitors to get his vehicle off the ground. The car is aimed at people who has a penchant for technology, performance and taste, he said.

He has also paid tribute to competitors on social media, including BYD, XPeng Inc., Li Auto Inc. and Huawei, calling them pioneers of China’s new energy vehicle industry. In a Wednesday post on social media platform Weibo, XPeng’s CEO He Xiaopeng said he welcomed Xiaomi joining the automaking family and wished the company great sales for 2024.       

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