Xiaomi Enters Electric Vehicle Market With US$10 Billion Commitment
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Xiaomi Enters Electric Vehicle Market With US$10 Billion Commitment

Chinese smartphone giant joins crowded but burgeoning automobile market.

By Dan Strumpf
Wed, Mar 31, 2021 5:55pmGrey Clock 2 min

HONG KONG—Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi Corp. became the latest tech company to launch a foray into China’s burgeoning electric vehicle market, pledging $10 billion over the next decade to the effort.

Xiaomi Chief Executive Lei Jun will lead the new stand-alone subsidiary focused on electric vehicles, the company said Tuesday. It will spend an initial 10 billion yuan, equivalent to about $1.5 billion, to launch the new company, expanding its investment in the coming years.

Xiaomi’s entrance into electric vehicles makes it one of China’s most high-profile tech companies to date to join the increasingly crowded market for such automobiles. Xiaomi’s status as a popular consumer brand with a rapidly expanding global footprint, could give it an edge over its many rivals, though new entrants into the car market face significant hurdles.

Mr Lei appeared late Tuesday before a cheering theatre of spectators in Beijing following the announcement. He told the audience that he had deliberated for months with the company’s board about whether Xiaomi should enter the electric vehicle market. He said he ultimately decided that the company’s deep cash cushion gave him the confidence to move forward.

“We have accumulated a lot of wisdom and experience and it’s time for us to try the waters,” Mr. Lei said.

Mr Lei offered scant details on how or when any Xiaomi vehicle would come to market, and didn’t disclose whether it had enlisted an outside manufacturer for the effort. Last week, Chinese car maker Great Wall Motor denied a report that it was working with Xiaomi on electric vehicles.

China is the world’s largest electric vehicle market, and Xiaomi joins a crowded field of companies looking to compete in the business. Sales of electric vehicles have been booming since industry champion Tesla Inc. began building its high-end cars in Shanghai in late 2019. Domestic rivals include NIO Inc.—whose soaring stock has made it one of the world’s most valuable auto makers—as well as Li Auto Inc. and Xpeng Inc.

In January, search-engine giant Baidu Inc. disclosed that it was entering the electric vehicle market with partner Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. Apple Inc. has been seeking partners to build electric vehicles since late last year, though talks to do so with South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group broke down in February.

Xiaomi is betting that its entry into electric vehicles will build on its resurgent success in smartphones. In the fourth quarter, the company became the world’s third-largest smartphone maker behind Apple and Samsung Electronics Co., occupying that spot for the first time ever. Booming sales in China, India and Western Europe have fueled its rise, while troubles at its Chinese rival Huawei Technologies Co. have sent customers flocking to its cut-rate devices.

The details of Xiaomi’s electric-vehicle effort came toward the close of a roughly two-hour new product launch hosted by Mr Lei in Beijing on Tuesday. In addition to smartphones, Xiaomi sells an array of consumer devices, and Mr Lei spent most of the event revealing a grab bag of new gadgets, including an internet-connected air conditioning unit, a home humidifier and a new laptop.

Only at the very end did Mr Lei discuss Xiaomi’s electric-vehicle plans. As an image of Mr Lei with his arm around Tesla CEO Elon Musk flashed behind him, the Chinese CEO said he had been a Tesla owner since 2013, and long had an interest in the technology.

“I hope that one day there will be a Xiaomi car on each and every street,” he said.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: March 30, 2021



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Boost for World Economy as U.S., Eurozone Accelerate in Tandem

Surveys point to a fresh acceleration in the U.S., even as growth in the eurozone strengthens

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Global economic growth is becoming more broad based, with surveys indicating that business activity in both the U.S. and the eurozone gained momentum in May.

The eurozone economy contracted in the second half of 2023 following a surge in energy and food prices triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the subsequent rise in interest rates intended to tame that inflation.

By contrast, the U.S. economy expanded strongly over the same period, opening up an unusually wide growth gap with the eurozone. That gap narrowed as the eurozone returned to growth in the first three months of the year, while the U.S. slowed.

However, surveys released Thursday point to a fresh acceleration in the U.S., even as growth in the eurozone strengthened. That bodes well for a global economy that relied heavily on the U.S. for its dynamism in 2023.

The S&P Global Flash U.S. Composite PMI —which gauges activity in the manufacturing and services sectors—rose to 54.4 in May from 51.3 in April, marking a 25-month high and the first time since the beginning of the year that the index hasn’t slowed. A level over 50 indicates expansion in private-sector activity.

“The data put the U.S. economy back on course for another solid gross domestic product gain in the second quarter,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Eurozone business activity in turn increased for the third straight month in May, and at the fastest pace in a year, the surveys suggest. The currency area’s joint composite PMI rose to 52.3 from 51.7.

The uptick was led by powerhouse economy Germany, where continued strength in services and improvement in industry drove activity to its highest level in a year. That helped the manufacturing sector in the bloc as a whole grow closer to recovery, reaching a 15-month peak.

By contrast, surveys of purchasing managers pointed to a slowdown in the U.K. economy following a stronger-than-expected start to the year that saw it outpace the U.S. The survey was released a day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called a surprise election for early July, banking on signs of an improved economic outlook to turn around a large deficit in the opinion polls.

Similar surveys pointed to a further acceleration in India’s rapidly-expanding economy, and to a rebound in Japan, where the economy contracted in the first three months of the year. In Australia, the surveys pointed to a slight slowdown in growth during May.

Businesses reported that they were raising their prices at the slowest pace since November, which should reassure the European Central Bank. However, the eurozone continued to add jobs in May, suggesting that wages might not cool as rapidly as the ECB had hoped.

The ECB released figures Thursday that showed wages negotiated by labor unions in the eurozone were 4.7% higher in the first quarter than a year earlier, a faster increase than the 4.5% recorded in the final three months of 2023

The ECB has signalled it will lower its key interest rate in early June, while the Fed is waiting for evidence that a slowdown in inflation will resume after setbacks this year.

Nevertheless, eurozone businesses and households shouldn’t bank on successive cuts to borrowing costs, ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos said. “There is a huge degree of uncertainty,” he said. “We have made no decisions on the number of interest rate cuts or on their size,” he said in an interview published Thursday. “We will see how economic data evolve.”

Continued resilience in the eurozone economy would likely make the ECB more cautious about lowering borrowing costs after its first move, economist Franziska Palmas at Capital Economics wrote in a note. “If the economy continues to hold up well, cuts further ahead may be slower than we had anticipated,” she said.

– Edward Frankl contributed to this story.

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11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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