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In the last few years, smartphone and tech manufacturing companies like Apple, Oppo, Xiaomi, Samsung, Huawei, and Google have begun investing in the electrical automotive industry.
Since 2000, Apple has applied for 248 car-related patents. Recently, the company hired Lamborghini’s top executive, Luigi Taraborrelli, to help them develop a design for their car. Hundreds of members from Ford, Tesla, Volvo, and Rivian have joined and left the company in recent years, including design executives from McLaren, Porsche, Aston Martin, and BMW.
Oppo is now bidding into the EV car space and is working to develop its first fully electric car. The company plans to release their car by 2024. With its largest smartphone manufacturing facility in Noida, the company is now expanding into the automotive industry and expects to make an entry into the market with e-scooters and e-motorcycles.
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The Chinese smartphone manufacturer, Xiaomi, also announced their plans to build four electric car models. Xiaomi’s founder Lei Jun is expected to unveil the first prototype in August 2022. In a speech, Jun said that their focus is to stand out in the automotive industry by stepping in with automated, smart driving electric vehicles.
In January 2022, Sony exhibited their prototype SUV, ‘Sony Vision-S’ to put the company ahead of Apple, Google, and Baidu in the car business. The company is known for its breakthrough innovations like the Walkman and the PlayStation, and now with a focus on autonomous vehicles, the integration of game and entertainment-like features could be perfect.
Samsung, Huawei, LG
“The time when cars are recognized as electronic gadgets would be the timing for Samsung to produce cars,” said Kwon Yong-joo, automotive and transportation design professor at Kookmin University. Following great success in almost every sector, Samsung has recently launched strides to fire up its readiness in the EV market.
Huawei recently stated that they are also stepping into the automotive industry but will not build their own car. Eric Xu, the rotating chairman of the firm, said that they will focus on ICT technology to help car companies. The company, along with China Automotive Technology and Research Centre (CATARC), is integrating with the automobile industry to launch AR-HUD, smart car lights, and smart light display.
Mercedes-Benz EQS EV sedan will feature LG developed in-vehicle-infotainment (IVI) system which is a Pillar to Pillar (P2P) display stretching across the dashboard. LG Electronics’ Vehicle component solutions (VS) company is focusing on becoming the leading developer of connectivity, infotainment, and ADAS solutions.
Ride sharing companies
In 2021, Arrival developed a prototype of a mono-volume electric car designed for Uber. Uber is committed to being a fully electric, zero-emission platform by 2040 globally, with 100 per cent rides taking place in zero-emission vehicles.
On 15 August, 2021, Bhavish Aggarwal, CEO of Ola, announced the launch of their electric scooter. In 2022, the company announced that their team will be launching their electric car by 2024. Ola aims to build a high-performance, sustainable car to compete against rival companies.
Why cars, why now?
In 2008, Tesla Motors released ‘Roadster’, their first completely electric car. Since the pandemic, the company has managed to install charging stations across the U.S. and Europe and build Gigafactories to produce batteries and vehicles.
With the United Nations claiming red-alert on climate change, there has been a rise in electric cars and other energy-efficient technologies in the market. Technology companies from all backgrounds are stepping in to make the least environment-friendly industry as sustainable as possible.
Mohit Mittal, partner at Praxis Global Alliance, said that the Indian government is promoting localised battery and cell manufacturing through the PLI (production-linked incentive) scheme for advanced cell chemistry manufacturing (ACC). As a result, several new players and manufacturers are making their way into the EV space in India.
In 2021, the Indian EV industry witnessed an investment of $6 billion and was projected to attract $20 billion by 2030.
Smartphone manufacturing companies like Oppo, Xiaomi, and Huawei have reached a saturation point in their small and detailed inventions in phones and IoT products. With the government incentivising the production and manufacturing of environment-friendly vehicles now, these companies have decided to switch to the automotive industry.
Established players of the automotive industry like Maruti, Mahindra, and TATA Motors are a step ahead of the software companies but lack the creative and technological innovations that LG, Sony, and other companies are willing to invest in.
Additionally, for the consumers, a rise in the competition in EV automotive industry will result in a drop in the prices of vehicles. It will also encourage further innovation and improve the overall ecosystem.