Chilye, a Chinese startup that develops high-voltage battery systems for electric vehicles (EVs), has raised around RMB 100 million ($15.7 million) from a group of investors led by Xiaomi, the latest move of the Chinese smartphone maker joining the EV race.

Why it matters: Leading automakers have been embracing high-voltage battery systems, a technology that enables fewer charging times when using fast chargers and a longer driving range with better energy efficiency and lighter car weight, according to Otmar Bitsche, a director at Porsche’s research unit.

Details: Apart from Xiaomi, other investors include private equity firm Yonghua Capital and state-backed Oriza Holdings, according to a Thursday statement (in Chinese).

  • Chilye said that the proceeds from the round will be spent on researching and developing high-voltage car battery systems and ramping up manufacturing for commercial products without revealing further details.
  • Xiaomi will continue to invest in “prominent domestic companies” in the EV supply chain. The company sees great potential for China’s auto components segment boosted by smart EVs, according to Sun Changxu, a partner at Xiaomi’s industry investment fund (our translation).
  • Headquartered in the eastern city of Suzhou, Chilye said it has secured clients including “multiple mainstream automakers” and will have the production capacity to equip 3 million EVs with its products annually by mid-2022.

Context: Xiaomi has set a target of mass-producing its first consumer EV model during the first half of 2024 and recently poached a senior executive from state-owned automaker BAIC Motor to lead its EV project.

  • Xpeng Motors is also transitioning to high-voltage technology with the recent debut of its second electric SUV model, the G9, scheduled for delivery starting September. The company claims it will be China’s first mass-produced vehicle model featuring an 800-volt electrical system.
  • Xpeng, backed by Alibaba and Xiaomi, added that an 800V power system and its proprietary superchargers will allow its vehicles to have a 200-kilometer (125-mile) driving range with only five minutes of charging.

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