Xiaomi has hired Yu Liguo, a former senior executive at state-owned automaker BAIC Motor, to lead its autonomous electric vehicle (EV) project. The move brings a highly-experienced executive from the traditional auto industry to the 12-year-old smartphone maker.
Why it matters: The hire is the latest sign that Xiaomi is serious about venturing into the EV industry.
Details: Yu has come aboard as vice president of Xiaomi’s auto unit and a “political commissar” at its Beijing headquarters, according to an internal letter published Friday and obtained by Chinese media outlet 36Kr.
- Yu will be tasked with leading Xiaomi’s car-making project and managing the development and implementation of key business goals, and will report directly to CEO Lei Jun, a person with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed with TechNode on Monday.
- Yu will also play a major role in talent management of the auto unit and report his daily work as a “commissar” to Liu De, a senior vice president and head of Xiaomi’s organization department, the person said.
- Yu began his career at BAIC in 2012 and worked as the president of Arcfox, an EV unit of BAIC, from 2020-2021. His leadership of the EV program at Daimler’s Chinese manufacturing partner resulted in the launch of the Alpha S vehicle, its flagship electric sedan co-developed with Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei in early 2021.
Context: The news comes just months after Li Tianyuan, a former exterior designer of BMW’s electric vehicle the iX, joined Xiaomi, an appointment that was made public via a group photo of the firm’s corporate executives posted by CEO Lei Jun last September.
- The Chinese smartphone giant is targeting the first half of 2024 to produce passenger EV that could include its own assisted driving technology, Lei told investors last October, six months after unveiling Xiaomi’s $1.5 billion auto investment plan.
- Xiaomi will face significant competition in the transportation space, with a host of startups jostling for a place in the EV market alongside banner brands such as Tesla and General Motors Wuling.