Huawei Technologies Co is planning to manufacture electric cars under its own brand, Reuters reported, as it shifts away from a consumer electronics business battered by US sanctions.
The Chinese tech giant could roll out some models this year, Reuters said, citing people with knowledge of the matter. Huawei is in talks with Chongqing Changan Automobile Co and other carmakers to use their plants to manufacture the EVs, according to the report.
A Huawei spokesman denied the company plans to design EVs or produce its own branded vehicles, Reuters said. Huawei isn’t a car manufacturer and instead aims to provide components for manufacturers, a representative for the company told Bloomberg News, reiterating comments provided to Reuters.
Briefly the world’s biggest smartphone maker, Huawei has struggled to keep growing its consumer electronics business after Trump-era sanctions cut off the supply of vital semiconductors and other components. Its billionaire founder Ren Zhengfei has vowed to keep making smartphones, even after the company sold its budget Honor brand at the end of last year.
The telecom giant is also in discussions with BAIC Group’s BAIC BluePark New Energy Technology Co. on manufacturing the vehicles, Reuters said. Huawei has previously developed technologies for EVs including in-car software systems, sensors and 5G communications hardware, and has partnerships with automakers like General Motors Co. and SAIC Motor Corp.
BAIC BluePark jumped 8% in Shanghai trading on Friday. Shares of Changan Automobile gained more than 5% in Shenzhen. Changan Automobile told Bloomberg News it wasn’t aware of the plans. BAIC Group didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Huawei and BAIC have already been jointly developing models. BAIC’s Arcfox EV brand debuted the Arcfox HBT, a vehicle equipped with Huawei’s smart-car technology and delivery is expected in 2021.
China’s technology companies are among some of the newest entrants into the increasingly crowded electric vehicle market. Search leader Baidu Inc announced in January it’s teaming up with Zhejiang Geely Holding Group to produce smart EVs. Xiaomi Corp, Huawei’s fiercest domestic rival in consumer electronics, said in a statement Sunday that it’s watching developments in the industry, though it hasn’t initiated any formal projects.
Apple Inc’s foray into automobile manufacturing is the most closely watched, with speculation over its potential partners for the venture reaching a frenzy in recent weeks. Still, it may be at least half a decade before the world’s most valuable company launches its first self-driving electric car, Bloomberg News has reported.