Tesla Inc is unlikely to be able to relax in China’s electric car market. The reason is, new competitors are starting to emerge. The latest is Huawei which has just released details of a new electric vehicle with specifications that it claims beat the Tesla Model Y.
Huawei, which is known as the Chinese telecommunications and smartphone giant, will not make advanced electric cars on its own, but will work closely with car manufacturers to create technologies such as autonomous driving or self-driving cars.
The first car with Huawei’s HarmonyOS operating system is the Aito M5, a car that uses electricity and fossil fuels, said executive director and CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group Richard Yu, as quoted by CNBC International, Monday (12/27/2021).
Richard Yu said the first deliveries would be made on February 20, 2022, after the Lunar New Year. The Aito M5 only sells for a starting price of 250,000 yuan (US$39,063). That’s lower than the Tesla Model Y, which starts at 280,752 yuan after subsidies.
In his presentation, Richard Yu claimed that the Aito M5 offers peak power and better driving range than the Tesla Model Y. However, unlike Tesla cars, the Aito M5 is not purely electric because it has a fuel tank to make it easier when the battery runs out of power.
Start-up Li Auto features a similar fuel-powered range extension for its Li One, the latest model that costs 338,000 yuan, without subsidies. Other features of the Aito M5 car such as double-glazed soundproof glass.
“You’ll know whether it’s a premium [car] or not by the sound,” said Richard Yu. “We can offer a ‘library grade’ quality experience.”
Huawei HarmonyOS operating system
The Aito M5 is the first model car under the Aito brand, which means “adding intelligence to auto.” That’s part of automaker Seres, whose previous automaker has included Huawei components, but not designs, said Richard Yu.
Seres, also known as SF Motors, is a Silicon Valley-based subsidiary of Sokon, according to the parent company’s website. Seres says on its website that it is “positioned to independently build and sell [products] in the world’s two largest markets, the US and China.”
The integration of HarmonyOS with the new Seres car in China is especially important as many electric car startups have tried to sell the idea that cars will resemble the role smartphones play in consumers’ lives. Each electric car is equipped with a touch screen to adjust the car’s functions and listen to music or watch movies.
One of Huawei’s smartwatches can also be used as a car key for the Aito M5.
Huawei launched HarmonyOS in 2019 after President Donald Trump’s administration put the company on a blacklist that restricts American companies from selling technology to Chinese companies, citing national security concerns. Huawei has denied it poses any such threat.