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Xiaomi-backed home appliance maker researching EVs

Smartmi, a Chinese home appliance manufacturer backed by smartphone maker Xiaomi, has formed a small group researching electric vehicles (EVs) and is in the early phase, according to Xiaomi’s spokesman Wang Hua’s Tuesday Weibo post. Wang was responding to Chinese media reports of Smartmi considering making EVs, to which Wang said Xiaomi wasn’t aware. Wang added that Xiaomi is not involved in Smartmi’s decision-making process. [Wang Hua’s Weibo, in Chinese]

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Hefei in talks with Xiaomi to host EV plant

Officials in the east China city of Hefei are in talks with Xiaomi to set up an electric vehicle (EV) plant, 36Kr reports. Hefei-based JAC Motors is expected to assemble cars for Xiaomi, said the report. JAC Motors also assembles cars for Chinese EV maker Nio in Hefei. Xiaomi announced it would invest $10 billion into making EVs in March. Officials from cities including Xi’an and Wuhan have also expressed interest in hosting the plant. [36Kr, in Chinese]

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Xiaomi funds another self-driving startup

Self-driving startup Geometrical Pal raised RMB 400 million ($62 million) in pre-Series A funding from backers including Matrix Partners China and Hubei Xiaomi Changjiang Industrial Investment Fund, an investment firm formed by the namesake smartphone maker, Chinese media reported Monday. This comes just two months after Xiaomi led a $190 million Series D for driver assistance system developer Zongmu, as the consumer electronics giant moves forward with driverless car technology. [36Kr, in Chinese]

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Xiaomi plans to open 20,000 more offline shops in China in three years

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi plans to open 20,000 more offline shops throughout China in the next three years, expanding its presence in lower-tier cities and towns, according to Lu Weibin, Xiaomi’s partner and vice president. Lu said new Xiaomi stores will be bigger and may sell Xiaomi’s electric vehicles (EVs) in the future. The company announced an EV subsidiary in March. [China Securities Journal, in Chinese]

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Auto chipmaker Black Sesame gets funding from Xiaomi

Black Sesame Technologies, a Chinese autonomous driving chip startup, has raised an undisclosed amount in two funding rounds led by an investment firm from Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi. Hubei Xiaomi Changjiang Industrial Investment Fund led the investment, in which Lenovo Capital and Incubator Group, and automaker FAW participated. The company said it is valued at $2 billion. [Black Sesame statement, in Chinese]