Huawei Technologies has stepped up efforts to help bring 5G-connected vehicles in China, the world’s largest car market, under a new initiative with the country’s major automotive industry players. Shenzhen-based Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment supplier, has formed an alliance with an initial batch of 18 companies to accelerate the commercial development of 5G-connected cars in the country, according to a company statement released over the weekend. The companies that have signed up to become part of Huawei’s “5G automotive ecosystem” include state-owned carmakers FAW Group Corp, SAIC Motor Corp, Dongfeng Motor Corp, Chang’an Automobile (Group) Co, Beijing Automotive Industry Holding, Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co, Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corp and Chery Automobile Co. Other prominent members include BYD Co, Great Wall Motors, Guangzhou Automobile Group and electric bus manufacturer Zhengzhou Yutong Group. “We will jointly explore and develop valuable 5G car applications,” said Huawei, adding that “the next two years will be critical” to fostering a market for 5G-connected vehicles. The company did not provide the projected volume of these cars to be released in the domestic market. A car built with Huawei’s 5G module, the Baojun RC-6 from SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile, was already commercially released in December last year, according to Lu Yu, an engineer at the carmaker. SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile is a joint venture between SAIC, General Motors and Liuzhou Wuling Automobile Industry Co. A Huawei representative said the company had no other comment beyond the released statement. A representative from Hong Kong-listed BYD said the company has no comment at this time. The announcement of the 5G vehicle ecosystem comes more than a year since Huawei released what it claims as the world’s first 5G vehicle module, the MH5000, designed by in-house semiconductor company HiSilicon. This initiative would further sharpen Huawei’s focus in China amid the protracted tech and trade war with the United States government, which led the Trump Administration to add the company to the US trade blacklist . The stakes are high for Huawei, also China’s biggest smartphone vendor, to help expand 5G adoption in China because the next-generation mobile technology has been held up as “the connective tissue” for the Internet of Things, autonomous cars, smart cities and other new applications – providing the backbone for the industrial internet in the world’s second biggest economy. Huawei and crosstown rival ZTE Corp supply most of the base stations and other network equipment for the 5G infrastructure programmes of China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. As of March, China has deployed nearly 200,000 5G base stations across the country, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. About 500,000 5G base stations are expected to be deployed nationwide by the end of this year. As a founding member of the 5G Automotive Association, an international body formed in 2016 to promote connected cars, Huawei has been pursuing the development and extensive testing of so-called C-V2X (Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything) systems in China and overseas. China is currently at the forefront of the deployment of C-V2X, according to Huawei. In 2019, more than 20 C-V2X projects were initiated in China and 13 carmakers published their road maps for roll-out of the technology, the company said. Huawei’s C-V2X systems include road side units, which connect a variety of road traffic elements, such as traffic lights, cameras and speed limit signs, for 5G-linked smart roads to support self-driving cars. Intelligent network connection and road coordination can effectively improve traffic safety, efficiency and reduce emissions, according to the company. “A smart infrastructure can be completely realised with 5G-based C-V2X,” said Fu Yong Changdong, a telecoms industry analyst and former vice-director at the Wireless Technology Innovation Institute at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. How 5G could put China in charge of the wireless backbone and ahead of the pack The RoboTaxi fleet from autonomous driving start-up AutoX recently started operations in Shanghai’s Jiading district , where the roads come equipped with C-V2X systems. That infrastructure enables each robotaxi to “communicate” with road infrastructure such as traffic lights to obtain relevant data. “The further development of Huawei’s 5G automotive ecosystem will ultimately depend on the data that partners share with the company,” said John Zeng, managing director of consultancy LMC Automotive.