Huawei in talks for controlling stake in Chinese carmaker; electronics firm ‘not making cars’ – report

Huawei Seres SF5

Huawei is in talks to take a controlling stake of a Chinese automaker’s electric vehicle unit, reports Reuters, the news wire quoted two people with direct knowledge of the matter as saying. A spokesperson for Huawei has, however, denied the the move.

Best known for its telecommunications business, Huawei is talks with Chongqing Sokon for the acquisition of a controlling stake in the automaker’s brand, Chongqing Jinkang, according to the sources. If the deal goes through, this will enable Huawei to have vehicles produced bearing its own nameplate, the report said.

The Huawei spokesperson however said that “Huawei is not making cars,” and added that the electronics producer was not looking to acquire controlling stakes. Meanwhile, Chongqing Sokon did not respond to Reuters‘ requests for comment, the news wire added.

“As individual consumer demand for smart EVs has been picking up notably since mid- to late last year, the track is now clear and solid in front of the tech giants. [However], despite their years of success and experience in smartphone markets, it will still take a few years for them to build a car brand acceptable in the EV sector,” managing director of Automotive Foresight Yale Zhang told Reuters.

The Chinese electronics manufacturer also plans to buy an undetermined stake in privately-owned Chongqing Sokon Holdings, the biggest shareholder of Sokon, according to one of the Reuters sources.

Huawei’s talks with Sokon is being led by Richard Yu, head of Huawei’s consumer business group and who has recently shifted focus to electric vehicles. the telecommunications company aims to finalise the deal as soon as July, another source said.

Jinkang counts Seres, formerly known as SF Motors, as its main asset, Reuters reported, and notes that the move to acquire a controlling stake in a carmaker is the first evidence that Huawei aims to go beyond offering operating systems in vehicles, and to have an end-to-end presence in the EV manufacturing business.

Agreements were announced earlier last month by Huawei rotating chairman Eric Xu with three Chinese carmakers, including BAIC, for the supply of the electronics manufacturer’s operating system in the carmaker’s vehicles, Reuters reported.

Huawei unveiled its first vehicle, the Huawei Seres Smart Selection SF5 at Auto Shanghai 2021 last month, with the vehicle itself developed with Caliornia-based Seres. The crossover is to be offered in to variants, a single-motor version at 216,800 yuan (RM137,287) and a dual-motor version at 246,800 yuan (RM156,334).

The electric powertrain in the SF5 offers up to 551 PS and 820 Nm of torque in dual-motor, all-wheel-drive configuration, and is aided by a 1.5 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that serves as a range extender. Early details from Huawei stated that the SF5 can attain a fully electric range of 180 km on the NEDC cycle, or up to 1,000 km with the range extender unit taken into account.

Infotainment in the Huawei Seres SF5 employs a HiCar operating system that is based on Huawei’s Harmony OS, the Chinese firm’s version of a connected vehicle ecosystem such as those offered by Apple and Google. This will enable its users to connect their smartphones to the vehicle and have their preferences saved, while smart devices can be controlled from the vehicle’s touchscreen.

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