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China’s Xiaomi enters the car market with a new electric vehicle

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Chinese consumer tech giant Xiaomi launched its first electric vehicle in Beijing on Thursday, entering a fiercely competitive sector in the world’s largest car market.

China’s EV sector has increased in recent years — propelled by purchasing subsidies discontinued in late 2022 — and dozens of domestic automakers are in a stiff price war to get ahead in a crowded market.

Xiaomi is known for its affordable smartphones and home appliances. CEO Lei Jun says he is now putting his “reputation on the line” with the SU7 EV, challenging Chinese car giant BYD and Elon Musk’s Tesla.

A basic SU7 model will cost 215,900 yuan ($29,868), Lei told a glitzy launch news conference in Beijing on Thursday evening. The sleek and sporty SU7 will be available in nine colours and includes “sound simulation”, Lei said, “to recreate the thrill of driving a sports car”.

It also offers plenty of other gimmicks, such as karaoke equipment and a mini-fridge.

Xiaomi has promised it will be “the best-looking, best-driving and smartest car” priced under 500,000 yuan.

“The 200,000 to 250,000 yuan range is actually the most competitive segment in the China EV space at the moment,” Johnson Wan, an analyst at Jefferies Financial Group Inc., told Bloomberg.

Lei told Thursday’s news conference that his company’s debut vehicle was comparable to Tesla’s Model 3 and surpassed the American maker’s sedan in some aspects.

“I think we can provide a better product for Model 3 users,” he said.

Xiaomi is the world’s third-biggest smartphone maker, and its experience in that sector has helped shape its EV strategy.

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