Chinese Giants Achieve What Apple Couldn’t: The Electric Car of the Future

Unveiling how Huawei and leapfrogged into the future of electric vehicles, leaving 's automotive dreams in the rearview.

  • Exploring the successful entry of Huawei and Xiaomi into the electric vehicle market.
  • Comparing the divergent paths of tech giants in the automotive arena.
  • Understanding the complexities of car manufacturing that Apple couldn't navigate.
  • Analyzing the broader implications for the electric vehicle industry and tech integration.

The Apple Car dream dims

For many Apple enthusiasts, the prospect of an Apple-branded car seemed a natural progression of the brand's innovation trajectory. With 's success, the Silicon Valley proved it could match or even exceed the world's top carmakers in creating compelling products, despite lacking longstanding automotive expertise. However, despite spending an estimated billion dollars annually, recruiting top automotive talent, and a decade of relentless speculation, Apple's car project quietly fizzled out in February.

Chinese tech giants take the wheel

In contrast, Apple's direct rivals in the smartphone sector, Huawei and Xiaomi, have successfully driven their vehicles onto the road. Huawei's Aito brand quickly climbed to the top of sales charts in China with its electric and plug-in hybrid crossovers, loaded with features and reasonably priced. Xiaomi's SU7, integrated with its HyperOS—the same system powering its smartphones—promises a seamless connection between home, car, and mobile phone, a concept that Western and Asian manufacturers have long aspired to.

What sets Huawei and Xiaomi apart from Apple?

Car manufacturing poses a complex challenge, especially for a company like Apple, known for its tightly controlled production chain. According to Sam Abuelsamid, a senior analyst at Guidehouse Insights, Apple's ambitions did not align with the realities of vehicle production. With the automotive industry traditionally being a low-margin sector due to high operational costs and fierce competition, Apple would have needed to innovate a new business model or integrate groundbreaking technology to overcome these challenges.

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How Huawei and Xiaomi succeeded

Huawei's success lies in its ability to partner with established car manufacturers, while Xiaomi opted to develop most aspects of its new SU7 internally, though the vehicle is assembled by the Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC). Xiaomi aimed not just to prove it could build an electric vehicle but to integrate it into its existing product ecosystem, creating a seamless human-car-home experience, diverging from Apple's pursuit of a disruptive standalone product.

Both companies accepted a certain level of imperfection to be first to market. Add to this a strong sense of national pride among Chinese consumers for Huawei and Xiaomi and a willingness to accept inherently lower profit margins, and it's clear how these projects took off while Apple's did not.

The road ahead for Huawei and Xiaomi

Despite their early successes, neither Huawei nor Xiaomi is immune to challenges. Huawei's Aito brand shows promise with solid sales but remains a testbed for technologies like its HarmonyOS for cars. Xiaomi's entry into one of China's most fiercely competitive electric car price wars demonstrates ambition. Yet, it has successfully put a car on the road, which is more than what Apple has achieved. The Xiaomi SU7's official sale date on March 28 starkly contrasts with the Apple car project, which will unfortunately never see the light of day.

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