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Apple's EV U-turn Stuns China's tech titans; Xiaomi, Li Auto, Xpeng Reeling

Chinese EV players surprised by Apple's decision to cancel car project. Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun expresses shock but remains committed to building EVs. Apple redirects resources to AI division, focusing on generative AI and mixed reality.

In a surprising move, Apple has announced its decision to abandon its plan to build electric vehicles (EVs), leaving China's ambitious EV players in shock. The news has sparked discussions among the founders of Xiaomi, Li Auto, and Xpeng, who were taken aback by Apple's withdrawal from the EV sector.


Lei Jun, the founder and chairman of Xiaomi, a leading Chinese smartphone manufacturer that unveiled its first car late last year, expressed his astonishment in a Weibo post on Wednesday. He stated that he was "very shocked" by Apple's decision and emphasised that he understands the challenges of car manufacturing. However, Lei affirmed that Xiaomi has made an "unshakeable strategic choice" and remains committed to building EVs.


Xiaomi, the world's third-largest smartphone manufacturer by shipments, made its entry into the EV sector in 2021. Lei Jun referred to this venture as the "last entrepreneurship of my life." The Beijing-based company showcased its first EV, the SU7, in December, after investing over 10 billion yuan (US$1.4 billion) in its development with a team of 3,400 engineers. The SU7 is currently undergoing further testing and is expected to hit the market in the coming months.


Meanwhile, Apple's decision to wind down Project Titan, its decade-long effort to build an autonomous EV, has raised eyebrows. The company plans to redirect resources to new businesses that take priority, with some of its 2,000 employees from the car venture being reassigned to its artificial intelligence (AI) division. Apple aims to focus on areas such as generative AI and mixed reality, which have become increasingly important for the tech giant.


Li Xiang, the CEO of Beijing-based EV maker Li Auto, expressed support for Apple's decision, stating that AI will become the top-level entrance for all devices, services, applications, and transactions. He believes that Apple should stay at the forefront of this technology. Chinese EV brands have been making significant strides in the industry, with BYD, based in Shenzhen, surpassing Tesla as the world's top EV manufacturer last quarter.


Li Auto, considered a major Chinese rival to Tesla, reported record profits in the last quarter, with net income doubling from the previous quarter to reach 5.75 billion yuan. However, the company anticipates weaker sales in the current quarter due to a slowing economy. He Xiaopeng, the chairman of Guangdong-based carmaker Xpeng, also expressed disbelief at Apple's exit from the EV sector. Despite expecting intense competition this year as newcomers launch their products, Xpeng plans to hire 4,000 new workers and roll out 30 new models over the next three years.

 
  • Chinese EV players surprised by Apple's decision to cancel car project

  • Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun expresses shock but remains committed to building EVs

  • Apple redirects resources to AI division, focusing on generative AI and mixed reality


Source: SCMP

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