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Huawei teams up with Changan Auto, CATL for premium smart car

(AFT) China’s telecom giant Huawei has joined hands with state-owned carmaker Changan Automobile and Tesla battery supplier Contemporary Amperex Technology to develop a premium “smart car” after US bans hit its smartphone and 5G telecom gear businesses. 

A premium “smart car” brand and hi-tech products jointly developed by Changan Automobile, Huawei and CATL will be released on the market soon, Zhu Huarong, chairman of China’s fourth largest carmaker, announced at Changan Automobile’s “Brand Day” broadcast on state-run CCTV last Saturday.

Huawei and Changan Automobile will also provide “intelligent” services centred around the “people, car, and home” ecosystem, Wang Jun, president of Huawei’s “smart car” solution business unit, said on the show.

Zeng Yuqun, chairman of Contemporary Amperex Technology, said the battery maker will have in-depth tie-ups with Changan in new energy and “smart energy” fields.

The name of the brand and details of the cooperation were not revealed. 

“The cooperation with Huawei and CATL will help Changan Automobile to transform from a traditional automobile maker to a technology-driven transportation company,” Liang Chao and He Junyi, analysts from Guosen Securities, said in a commentary.

They said the three companies will be able to complement each other’s technological weaknesses, and their cooperation may set a new model in China’s auto industry.

Huawei has recently stepped up development of its automotive devices business as Washington takes steps to convince other countries to ban Huawei’s telecom gear and cut off the supply of high-end computer chips to its smartphone business.

Due to US pressure, Huawei has also sold its budget smartphone brand Honor to a local government-led consortium in a bid to cut ties so that it would no longer be subject to US sanctions.

In September, Huawei set up a new subsidiary, dubbed Huawei Electric Technology Co Ltd to specialise in the R&D, manufacturing and sales of intelligent car devices. 

At the end of October, it launched the “HI” brand for intelligent automotive solutions aimed at helping automakers develop “intelligent-connected” electric vehicles. 

The “HI” solutions encompass a new set-up for computing and communications, and five systems focusing on “intelligent driving”, “intelligent cockpit”, “intelligent electrification”, connectivity and “intelligent automobile cloud”, respectively. 

Huawei has had long-standing cooperation with Changan Automobile.

Partners on ‘car tech’ 

In January of 2018, Huawei, Changan Automobile and China Mobile signed a strategic partnership agreement for the joint R&D of LTE-V and 5G-connected automotive functions. In July of the same year, Huawei signed another strategic partnership with Changan to focus on the development of “intelligent” and electric vehicles.

In January 2019, Huawei and Changan Automobile set up a joint innovation centre in Changan’s headquarters in Chongqing and announced a plan to increase their collaboration in more than 10 futuristic technologies such as Level-4 autopilot, 5G car networking, and C-V2X.

Changan Automobile, with a century-long history, is a latecomer to China’s electric vehicle market. Its leaders have long aspired to have a premium car brand. 

The company unveiled a plan for a premium brand in April 2018, said to be code named “AB”. It later set up a joint venture with Nio, which was believed to be making its premium brand. However, the JV derailed and Changan took over control by increasing its ownership to 95% and replacing the chairman in June this year.

At its Brand Day conference, Changan also announced a new technology named “Ark Architecture” and said it plans to launch 105 new car models in the next five years, including 23 new energy models.


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Iris Hong

Iris Hong is a senior reporter for the China desk, and has special interests in fintech, e-commerce, AI, and electric vehicles. She began her career in 2006 and worked for Interfax News Agency and for PayPal before joining Asia Financial in July 2020. You can reach out to Iris on Twitter at @Iris23360981


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