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Xiaomi planning $10 billion assault on electric car market — what you need to know

Xiaomi logo on storefront
(Image credit: Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Xiaomi is already nicknamed "China's Apple" — and now it's set to follow the U.S. tech giant's lead by building its own electric cars.

The company, best known for smartphones such as the new Xiaomi Mi 11, announced its plans during its 2021 New Product Launch event in China today, tweeting confirmation that it would invest $10bn into the project over the next decade.

In a shareholder filing, Xiaomi said it will create a standalone division for its new electric cars, headed by co-founder Lei Jun, and added that it “hopes to offer quality smart electric vehicles to let everyone in the world to enjoy smart living anytime, anywhere.” 

The news has been rumored for some time. Just last week, a report from Chinese site 36 Krypton said the plans were already in progress, and that Lei had held talks with Chinese luxury EV manufacturer Nio about working together on the car.

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The project will pit Xiaomi against fellow tech titans Apple and Huawei, each of whom have their own electric car plans, and into an increasingly competitive space where long-established auto makers are battling the likes of Tesla.

Unlike Apple, Xiaomi already has a history in the automotive world. Last year, it teamed up with Lamborghini to make the Ninebot GoKart Pro — a (you guessed it) supercar-inspired GoKart with a 432Wh battery and a 25 mph top speed. And back in 2019, it produced the Redmi Bestune T77, an SUV with a 1.2-liter turbo engine, 6-speed manual gearbox, and 143hp.  

Apple's plans for the Apple Car appear to have stalled in recent months, with recent reports suggesting that the Cupertino model might not arrive until 2024. Potential partnerships with the likes of Nissan, Hyundai and Kia all appear to have fizzled out, and a recent story suggested it might even turn to iPhone makers Foxconn or other existing contractors to make the Apple Car.

When it does eventually arrive, the Apple Car is expected to be something quite special, with LiDAR-based navigation, AI management and monocell battery tech among the many standout features.

Whether Xiaomi's electric car will be as technologically advanced remains to be seen, but it's certainly doing well enough on the smartphone front. Last year it overtook Apple to become the world's third-largest smartphone maker, and we recently gave the Mi 11 a glowing 4-star review.

As U.K. Editor in Chief on Tom’s Guide, Marc is responsible for the site’s U.K.-focused output as well as overseeing all gaming, streaming, audio, TV, entertainment and cameras coverage. He previously edited the tech website Stuff and also spent years on a music magazine, where his duties mainly involved spoiling other people’s fun. An avid photographer, Marc likes nothing better than taking pictures of very small things (bugs, his daughters) or very big things (distant galaxies).