Among a rash of Chinese tech behemoths venturing into the car manufacturing business over the past year, newcomer Xiaomi may pose the most serious competitive threat to other carmakers. With a strong brand name and a dominant position in the country’s consumer electronics market, a Xiaomi car has the potential to turn the automobile and mobility industry upside down in the coming decade.

Now the Chinese smartphone giant is saying a Xiaomi car will be coming in the next few years. Speaking at Xiaomi’s annual investor day on Oct. 19, Chief Executive Lei Jun said the company is aiming to mass produce its first electric vehicle model for consumers in the first half of 2024. The company reportedly (in Chinese) has a master plan for its auto business, eyeing a total sales target of 900,000 vehicles within three years of production. That number would be almost equivalent to China’s total EV sales in 2019.

Bottom line: The auto industry has been uncharted territory for Xiaomi, but boss and founder Lei, 51, is setting wildly ambitious goals for the car-making project, which he calls “my last major entrepreneurial project.” A latecomer to the transition from fossil-fueled vehicles to the future of electric and autonomous mobility, Xiaomi is largely unprepared (in Chinese), even compared to newbie entrants such as Baidu and Huawei. To catch up, the company is pouring billions of RMB into the sector and placing some big bets on multiple startups as it attempts to build a complete auto supply chain.

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Jill Shen

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen