China’s Xiaomi leaves door open to entering car market in India
Company says regulatory filing was not an application to sell cars and related components in India, though it considers the country its top market
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi left open the possibility of building and selling cars in India in the future, even though it denied it had immediate plans to do so in the country it has targeted as a priority.
A Xiaomi spokesman said regulatory filings that show the company may introduce car and related components in India was only for products it may “choose to launch and sell in India” in the future.
“It is not an application for a license or permission to introduce these product lines,” the spokesman said in a statement, following its regulatory filing on Tuesday, after India’s Economic Times reported it could potentially go into the car business in the country.
India, the world’s second most populous market, is Xiaomi’s top priority. The company plans to invest US$1 billion in 100 Indian start-ups over the next five years to create an ecosystem of apps for Xiaomi phones, founder and CEO Lei Jun said in November.
The Beijing-based company is also eyeing the sale of products including laptops, computer accessories, lifestyle goods, and even financial-related services such as the payment bank business in India, the Economic Times reported, citing the filing.
“It is not a surprise, but a necessity if Xiaomi now has plans to build its own cars,” said Ran Chuangchuang, an analyst with Beijing-based iResearch.
“All Chinese technology giants and many rising start-ups are investing heavily in autonomous vehicle designs. As Xiaomi has been actively mapping out its plans to build up its internet-based ecosystem, it is impossible that it has nothing planned for its own autonomous vehicles,” said Ran.
Most recently, Chinese e-commerce platform JD.com announced it would invest 10 billion yuan in autonomous driving.
Xiaomi is one of the few major Chinese technology companies that has not yet invested in research and development for autonomous cars. Last week, when some Chinese media reports suggested the company was teaming up with other Chinese car brands to build vehicles, Xiaomi responded on its official Weibo account that it has “no plan to make cars for now, and also no such plan [for the future]”.
Through a planned research and development centre in Bangalore, Xiaomi’s Lei said it will bring around 200 products to India, not just smartphones, but a variety of products including many tailor-made for the Indian market.
“We have adopted the India No 1 strategy, which includes design, R&D, manufacturing and supply,” Lei said last month in India.