It seems like Apple just needs to hint at building something and the tech world practically coalesces towards realizing that vision. Apple had to merely hire YSL’s former boss to create rumors around a fashion-focused wearable and Samsung scrambled to launch their Galaxy Watch. The company hinted at AR/VR being their future and Facebook literally rebranded to Meta to bet on that vision. Now, after years of Apple Car ‘leaks and rumors’, Xiaomi is beating the Cupertino giant to the punch by announcing the SU7, their first EV.
The SU7 hasn’t formally been announced by Xiaomi yet, but images of the car were released to the public by China’s government regulatory agency, accompanied by various technical details of the car’s design and capabilities. This move shouldn’t come as a surprise to keen-eyed folk in the tech world, given that Xiaomi’s actually made electric scooters in the past under its Mijia sub-brand. In fact, it’s been Xiaomi’s endeavor to make practically every product possible, given that their name means ‘little rice’, a call-back to a Buddhist concept of starting small and working your way up to the top.
The recently unveiled SU7 is shaping up to be a formidable entrant in the electric vehicle (EV) market. Although Xiaomi is the brand behind this vehicle, the actual manufacturing will be done by Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. (BAIC), a state-owned enterprise in China. This collaboration is a strategic step for Xiaomi, venturing into new territory while leveraging BAIC’s manufacturing expertise.
Design-wise, the SU7 is positioned to compete with the likes of the Tesla Model S, featuring a 118″ wheelbase and a fastback roofline, though with a faux-hatch trunk. Its overall length is comparable to the Model S, falling short by less than 30mm, aiming to appeal to the Chinese market’s preference for long-wheelbase luxury sedans.
The SU7 will be available in multiple variants, including a single-motor rear-wheel-drive version producing around 295 hp and a dual-motor all-wheel-drive version with an impressive 663 hp. The vehicles differ in weight and battery technology, with the premium model featuring a nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) battery, contrasting with the more affordable variant’s lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery. The high-end model is also expected to have a 100kWh battery and an 800-Volt architecture. In addition, some models will sport a conspicuous lidar array on the roof, indicating advanced driver assistance and potential autonomy features.
Xiaomi’s ambition with the SU7 extends beyond just manufacturing a luxury EV. The car is expected to feature Xiaomi-developed in-car software, potentially integrating with its vast ecosystem of gadgets and services. However, the extent of this integration and whether it will be globally applicable or mainly focused on the Chinese market remains to be seen.
Oddly enough, Xiaomi isn’t the first tech company to foray into the EV space. Back in 2020, Sony turned heads by revealing the Mission S, its first automotive concept with self-driving features. While the Mission S, as impressive as it was, was intended to just be a proof of concept, Xiaomi’s SU7 EV will actually see the light of day, following approval from the Chinese government regulatory agency. As for the car’s global availability, it’s uncertain if Xiaomi plans to market the SU7 outside China. The brand has a substantial presence in Asia and Europe, particularly in the value segment, which might not align with the luxury EV market. However, the SU7 could signify a shift in the broader market narrative, influencing other technology companies to explore vehicle manufacturing, especially as the global smartphone market reaches a saturation point.