Xiaomi has identified Hesai Technology as the lidar supplier for its first car, which will come at a price exceeding 300,000 yuan ($43,460), Chinese media outlet LatePost reported on September 2. The lidar firm for autonomous driving and ADAS has previously received investment from Xiaomi.
In a livestreaming session for Xiaomi fans on April 6 of last year, company founder Lei Jun mentioned the result of a price vote he launched on Weibo. Among the 17,000 voters, nearly 70% hoped that Xiaomi‘s first car would not exceed 150,000 yuan, and nearly 1% hoped that it would be more than 300,000 yuan. Now, it seems that this car has hit the upper limit of consumers’ expectations.
Xiaomi has greatly reduced the price of its smartphones by selling them directly online and removing intermediate channels. In the automotive industry, LatePost thinks that Xiaomi may not adopt the same path. Automobile supply chains are more complex than smartphones, and recent price increases of raw materials have become challenges for all automobile companies.
Xiaomi‘s first vehicle will adopt Hesai’s hybrid solid-state lidar AT128 as the main lidar installation, while several all-solid-state lidars will be used as supplementary sensors.
All-solid-state lidars have larger viewing angles and smaller blind areas than hybrid solid-state lidars, which are suitable for blind compensation. An industry source commented that this is superior to the current scheme of using hybrid solid-state lidars to fill blind spots of vehicles.
Lidar is the key sensor to realize high-level autonomous driving. A person close to Xiaomi said that Lei Jun firmly believes that the highest development level of smart electric vehicles is autonomous driving, and Xiaomi has invested 3 billion yuan in the field.
In August last year, Xiaomi acquired DeepMotion.ai, an autonomous driving technology company, for $77 million, forming Xiaomi‘s automated driving algorithms team. The team currently has 500 people and plans to expand to 600 people by the end of this year. Moreover, Xiaomi has 40 automated driving road test vehicles.
Xiaomi has been investing in supply chain enterprises, such as those in the fields of autonomous driving chips and lidar. After announcing its car-making plan last year, Xiaomi participated in round-D and round-D+ financing for Hesai Technology in June and November 2021, respectively, with amounts of over $300 million and $70 million. Xiaomi Changjiang Industrial Investment Fund has twice led the financing of Black Sesame Technologies, an automated driving chip company, and it led the investment in lidar maker RoboSense this year. Shunwei Capital, which was founded by Lei Jun before the establishment of Xiaomi, has successively invested in lidar companies Benewake and Innovusion.
Many new vehicle models released since last year have been equipped with lidar. The hybrid solid-state radar AT128 released by Hesai Technology last year has been applied on Li Auto‘s L9, which just began delivery. RoboSense will supply lidar for XPeng‘s new G9 SUV, which will be delivered in the fourth quarter of this year. Innovusion, meanwhile, is the supplier for NIO‘s ET5 and ET7 models.
In terms of batteries, according to 36Kr‘s previous report, Xiaomi has selected CATL and BYD’s FinDreams Battery as suppliers. Low-end models will be equipped with FinDreams’ ferrous lithium phosphate blade battery, while high-end models will be equipped with the Kirin battery, to be released by CATL later this year.