Huawei rotating chairman Eric Xu: 'I don’t know if they were bragging, but my team said they can have cars driving on their own without human intervention for 1,000 kilometers. That’s way better than Tesla.' Credit: Handout.

Despite being under siege from US sanctions, Huawei has decided to take on one of the most high-tech, advanced rivals in the world — none other than Tesla Inc.

According to a report in Bloomberg, Huawei Technologies will invest US$1 billion on researching self-driving and electric-car technologies, accelerating plans to compete with Tesla Inc. and Xiaomi Corp. in the world’s biggest vehicle arena.

Huawei’s autonomous-driving technology has already surpassed Tesla’s in some spheres, for instance by allowing cars to cruise for more than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) without human intervention, Rotating Chairman Eric Xu told industry analysts in Shenzhen Monday.

The Chinese telecom giant will partner with three automakers initially to make self-driving cars that carry the Huawei name as a sub-brand, said Xu, one of three executives who take turns to fill the post, Bloomberg reported.

It will keep its circle of partners small and get its logo onto cars — not unlike how Intel Corp. calls attention to its microprocessors on PCs — that adopt its autonomous driving technology, he added.

The mobile giant has so far agreed to team up with BAIC Group, Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Bloomberg reported.

It also planned to push ahead in helping develop applications for the coming advent of superfast 5G connections, in cloud computing, and in the software business, Agence France-Presse reported.

“With these adjustments in portfolio, we are quite confident we can survive,” Xu said.

“So the overall strategy and specific measures of Huawei are all revolving around enabling us to survive and develop under the entity listing in the long term,” he said.

Former US president Donald Trump in 2018 launched an aggressive campaign to isolate the company globally amid concerns that its telecom networking equipment installed worldwide could be used by China’s Communist Party government for espionage or sabotage, AFP reported.

China and Huawei have fiercely rejected the insinuation, saying the United States has never provided evidence.

The measures against the company include barring it from the huge US market, cutting it off from global component supply chains and pressuring allies to ban or rip out Huawei gear from their national telecom systems, AFP reported.

The administration of US President Joe Biden, who took office in January, has so far indicated no let-up on Huawei.

Huawei is the world’s largest supplier of telecom networking gear and has long been a top-three smartphone supplier along with Apple and Samsung.

But it tumbled out of the mobile phone big three in late 2020 as sales plummeted due to the difficulty accessing necessary components, according to industry trackers.

EV sales in China may climb more than 50% this year alone as consumers embrace cleaner automobiles and costs tumble, research firm Canalys estimates, Bloomberg reported.

Huawei’s info and entertainment features can already be found in Mercedes-Benz sedans and the firm has teamed up with domestic players such as BAIC BluePark New Energy Technology Co. to develop smart car systems.

The first model under its partnership with the Chinese EV maker, the Arcfox αS HBT, will be unveiled at Auto Shanghai in April, Bloomberg reported.

“I don’t know if they were bragging, but my team said they can have cars driving on their own without human intervention for 1,000 kilometers. That’s way better than Tesla,” Xu said Monday.

Xu said Huawei will step up efforts to develop its own mobile phone operating system, after US actions cut off it from using Google’s Android OS.

Analysts have said this is a tall task given the global stranglehold of Android and Apple’s iOS system.