Huawei has had to pivot to remain relevant and during the Global Analyst Summit 2021 Huawei’s commitment to automotive deepened.
Huawei’s rotating chairman Xu Zhijun said that Huawei has cooperations with three automotive companies to build three sub-brands. Starting in the fourth quarter of this year.
Huawei has been clear that they do not want to build their own car, but to empower car companies. They have had an automotive division since 2012 and it seems that they have the right products at the right time. China, the world’s biggest car market, wants smart vehicles with at least some automation to account for more than 50% of new auto sales by 2025, according to a national technology road map laid out in November. The plan also emphasized the need for infrastructure that allows vehicles to link to the internet and each other.
Which Car makers is Huawei partnering with?
Any manufacturer which jointly produces a car that uses Huawei’s autonomous drive solutions, will carry a Huawei Inside logo.
BAIC’s ARCFOX Polar Fox brand will launch a series of vehicles in Q4 of this year. Chongqing Changan and Guangzhou Automobile (GAC) have also been named but the sub-brands have not yet been officially launched.
Recently, the official Weibo of Huawei Smart Car Business Unit teased the BAIC ARCFOX Polar Fox Alpha S, which is a luxury EV. It will feature their most advanced three-cell lidar carrying solution, 6-millimeter wave radars, 12 cameras, 13 ultrasonic radars, and a Huawei chip with a computing power of up to 352Tops, which they claim will be above level 3. Smart money is this will be one of the first cars we hear about at the Shanghai Auto Show next week.
Before today’s analyst conference GAC, announced they will jointly develop L4 self-driving vehicles with Huawei and they plan to mass-produce them in 2024.
GAC produced 728,000 vehicles in 2012, and is the tenth largest in volume. GAC is responsible for manufacturing 5 foreign car brands in China, Fiat, Honda, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, and Toyota. GAC’s own brand, AION, produces electric cars and Huawei is already providing connectivity technology in the upcoming GAC AION V. It is equipped with the world’s first 5G+V2X smart terminal that uses Huawei’s latest generation of Barong 5000 5G chips.
In December 2020, Huawei officially released 96-line medium and long-range lidar products which they designed and developed. Huawei’s lidar is able to avoid small long-distance obstacles, short-distance stoppages, near-end protrusions, tunnels, crossroads, as well as high-speed vehicle detection. Wang Jun, president of Huawei’s smart car solutions BU, revealed that Huawei plans to reduce the cost of lidar to US$200 or even US$100 in the future.
Huawei is also entering the patent game when it comes to autonomous drive. On March 9 2021, Huawei published a patent related to lidar technology, which they applied for in 2019. It includes a laser, sub-terminal module, generator, main tube coherent detection module, and a modulation processing control module.
Huawei has ambitious goals during the Analyst Summit Q&A Xu stated:
“My team tells me that we are capable of 1000km autonomous driving in urban areas, if that’s the case it’s much better than Tesla”
They will be showing off their self driving tech at the Shanghai Auto Show on Aprils 17th, so we don’t have long to find out just how true these claims actually are.
Personally I’m excited, Huawei is pretty good at creating user experiences that consumers love. If they’re software team switches focus maybe they can get us to love a car infotainment systems as much as we loved their cameras.