Telecom giant Huawei Technologies is fighting fire with fire.
Thumbing its nose at crippling US sanctions, on Sunday it launched no less than five automated-driving solutions — that’s right, five — including one that runs on its HarmonyOS operating system.
The products, which will be mass-produced in cars to be co-developed with automakers later this year, is part of the telecommunications hardware company’s US$1 billion investment in self-driving and electric-vehicle research in 2021 to capture the rising demand for electrics in the world’s largest auto market, Nikkei Asia reported.
The launch was preceded by Saturday’s unveiling of two versions of the Arcfox Alpha S, a premium electric vehicle co-developed by Huawei’s intelligent automotive solutions business unit; and Arcfox, a unit of state-controlled automaker BAIC Group.
Both versions were also fitted with HarmonyOS, marking its debut in a vehicle ahead of Huawei’s smartphones, Nikkei Asia reported.
Huawei has been developing HarmonyOS following trade sanctions imposed by the US, which regarded Huawei and other Chinese companies as national security risks.
The Shenzhen-based company recently said that Washington’s actions have hurt the company’s progress and created a chip crunch affecting the global semiconductor industry, Nikkei Asia reported.
“We have established extensive cooperation with about 200 global automakers and industry partners,” Wang Jun, president of the intelligent automotive solutions unit, told reporters Sunday.
Wang leads a 5,000-strong workforce consisting of researchers, 2,000 of whom are focusing on automated-driving technologies.
Huawei will offer solutions to others but not manufacture cars itself, unlike rival Xiaomi.
“If we can do well in vehicle parts, why do we need to produce cars?” asked Wang, who explained that making cars is not necessarily a moneymaker.
According to autoevolution, Huawei and BAIC will offer two different models, namely Alpha S and Alpha S HI versions, each with base and high-end configurations. So at the end of the day, there are four different versions of the Huawei car that customers can order.
Auto analysts say the Arcfox Alpha S is a tech-packed car, with power coming from a Kirin 990A chip developed by Huawei.
It offers 5G support and runs on HarmonyOS, the in-house built operating system originally supposed to serve as an alternative to Android that later evolved to become a full platform for almost everything Huawei makes, autoevolution reported.
Just as expected, Huawei is betting big on the synchronization between the car and its smartphones, so HarmonyOS allows for seamless communications, with a massive 4K car screen installed on the dashboard making it possible for users to control everything from infotainment to autonomous driving capabilities.
Voice recognition is also offered, but the car also supports gestures, so that you can interact with the car without touch.
In terms of EV capabilities, the available 93.6 kWh battery is said to offer an autonomy that goes up to over 700 km (435 miles) per charge, autoevolution reported.
And the fast charging is impressive, as a dedicated mode allows for the battery to get up to 197 km (122 miles) worth of power in just 10 minutes.
The lithium-ion battery pack comes with a smart temperature control, so in theory, it’s as safe as it gets because the charging doesn’t allow for excessive overheating; that is one of the reasons the car recharges so fast.
Wireless charging is also offered, though it goes without saying it’d take longer to fully recharge the battery without a cable, autoevolution reported.
The autonomous driving mode is powered by the onboard maps also provided by Huawei, though for now, only a handful of Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, are supported.
Huawei had announced its LiDAR products, ranging from the 96-line medium to long-range, back in December.
It is designed to function properly in various scenarios, such as small long-distance obstacles, short-distance stoppages, near-end protrusions, tunnels, crossroads, etc., especially during active driving, TechGenyz reported.
It is also comes with the ability to detect the high-speed vehicles.
The car will go on sale later this year, and the pricing starts at 251,900 Yuan (about $38,700), going all the way up to 429,900 Yuan ($66,000) for the top HI version.
The $1 billion investment reflects the company’s belief that artificial-intelligence-powered smart vehicles will be the most disruptive industry force over the next decade, Nikkei Asia reported.
Huawei’s intelligent solutions center on a new computing and communications architecture that controls driving, connectivity, and the entertainment system, as well as cloud technology.
Huawei’s announcements came ahead of the 19th Shanghai auto show, which opened to the press today and to the public later in the week.
Both local and international automakers are expected to unveil new models to meet growing demand for electric vehicles, Nikkei Asia reported.
Led by US company Tesla and homegrown rival Nio, sales of so-called new-energy vehicles increased 11% to 1.37 million units in China in 2020 even as auto sales here contracted 1.9% to 25.3 million units.
“There are 30 million vehicles in China’s market,” Xu Zhijun, Huawei’s current rotating chairman, told analysts.
“Even if we do not expand our vehicle business to foreign countries, we are still self-sustainable with the surging demand in the domestic market, with the average annual revenue of 10,000 yuan [$1,533] per car,” Xu said.
“But surely, Huawei is a global brand and will not just focus on the local market.”
Market research firm Canalys projected in February that Chinese sales of electrics would grow 51% this year, Nikkei Asia reported.
“But with Tesla expanding its portfolio in China, it will be hard for competitors offering premium EVs to gain market share,” vice-president Sandy Fitzpatrick said in a news release.
“With that in mind, some Chinese car makers are already looking for growth opportunities in other parts of the world, especially Europe.”