Huawei will launch a co-developed electric vehicle (EV) smart car next week, a move that analysts said could challenge Tesla and put the Chinese company on a new track to compete with Apple.
Huawei and Beijing-based EV manufacturer BAIC Blue Valley will jointly launch a high-end electric smart car system called ARCFOX αS HBT, according to an official announcement by Huawei Intelligent Automotive Solutions on Wednesday.
The car will be equipped with 96-line Huawei Lidars, 6-millimeter wave radar, 12 cameras, 13 ultrasonic radars, and a Huawei chip with a computing power of up to 352Tops (Tera Operations Per Second), forming an autonomous driving solution above the L3 level, according to the release.
Although the Chinese tech giant previously said that it had no plan to manufacture autos, it aims to "help car companies build good cars" and positioned it as a supplier of digital components to carmakers.
"Anything that Tesla can do, we can do," said Xu Zhijun, a rotating chairman of Huawei, in an interview in November 2020.
Huawei's move into auto-related technology research goes back to 2013. It has formed close cooperation with automakers globally focusing on smart driving computing platforms, smart cockpit solutions, intelligent networks and cloud services.
Whether it can challenge Tesla in autonomous driving remains to be seen, but it is moving toward that position, along with other Chinese automakers, independent auto sector analyst Feng Shiming told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Where Huawei outperforms Tesla is in its ability in intelligent networks and smart cockpit platforms, experts said.
The cooperation between Huawei and BAIC is not only at the level of autonomous driving, but it also involves integrating smart cars with mobile phones, where Huawei has an advantage, Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Beijing-based Information Consumption Alliance, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Last September, Huawei unveiled an upgraded version of its HarmonyOS, an alternative to Google's Android operating system, allowing users to control most autonomous functions in their vehicles via their cellphones.
"It allows users to set their car's functions based on their own habits and likes, using their mobile phones. In this aspect, it is a brand new ability that Tesla does not have," Xiang said.
In an interview with the media on Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook dropped a few hints that an option could be for Apple to build an autonomous-driving technology platform used by carmakers, putting the two cellphone makers on a new competing track in the car market.
It is believed that Huawei has a good chance to beat Apple in the car market, given China's consumption market and manufacturing capabilities, Xiang said.
"In terms of making smart cars, Huawei and Apple are at the same starting line. Huawei has even moved a small step ahead with the announcement of this new product," Xiang said.