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Xiaomi to begin deliveries of its 1st EV model, sees shares climb

China’s Xiaomi announced on Tuesday it would kick start deliveries of its first electric vehicle model, SU7, later this month, venturing into the world’s largest auto market amid a brutal price war and fierce competition with rivals such as BYD and Tesla.

The smartphone maker, China’s fifth-largest, said in a Weibo post it has 59 stores in 29 cities nationwide that will take orders. A launch event is scheduled for March 28, when the new EV’s sticker tag is expected to be announced.

Xiaomi’s shares rallied 7% during morning trade.

China’s EV sales climbed 18% in January-February, not too far off the 21% growth seen for all of 2023. This year, we have seen a round of deeper price cuts led by market leader BYD to woo consumers amid a weakening domestic demand.

At the unveiling of the Speed Ultra 7 (SU7) sedan in December, Xiaomi’s Chief Executive, Lei Jun, said the company plans to become one of the world’s top five automakers.

Lei touted the SU7, which has “super electric motor” technology capable of delivering acceleration speeds faster than Tesla and Porsche’s EVs.

Analysts say the car’s shared operating system with Xiaomi’s popular phones and other electronic devices will appeal to the company’s existing customers.

Xiaomi has been seeking to diversify beyond its core business to EVs amid stagnating demand for smartphones – a plan it first flagged in 2021.

Its cars will be produced by a unit of state-owned automaker BAIC Group in a Beijing factory with an annual capacity of 200,000 vehicles.

The smartphone giant has pledged to invest $10 billion in autos over a decade and is one of the few new players in China’s EV market to gain approval from authorities who have been reluctant to add to a supply glut.

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