Xiaomi’s SU7: China’s New Performance Electric Vehicle
If you’re a frequent user of Reddit for tech news or are an avid Android fan, you probably know a lot about Xiaomi. The Chinese company is the world’s second-largest smartphone manufacturer, in case you were unaware. Executives at Xiaomi realized that the market for smartphones could not expand indefinitely, so the company is now focusing on producing electric vehicles. It has extremely high expectations for its first model.
The Xiaomi SU7 is the name of the company’s first electric vehicle. That is pronounced “su-chee” in Chinese, but the letters are said to stand for Super Ultra in English. Sure, it’s boastful, but the business hopes to demonstrate strong performance to support that assertion. Xiaomi wants to create one of the best performance EVs from the start rather than settling for a simple entry somewhere in the middle of the market.
It is true that any business can call a vehicle that has some fancy numbers on a spec sheet an automobile. The interesting company Xiaomi itself garnered a lot of attention at the end of the previous decade due to its rapid market share growth, even though the company itself had to acknowledge that its growth was too rapid. There were a lot of complaints about the Mi 11 phone’s quality online during its rough launch, which was also handled poorly by the company.
Having said all of that, Xiaomi, a massive industrial company, announced the project live on its EV Technology Launch stream, giving the impression that it is very serious. There will be two SU7 models available. The SU7, a single-motor variant, will send 295 horsepower to the back wheels. The all-wheel-drive, dual-motor variant, dubbed the SU7 Max, will be available with a powerful 664 horsepower.
According to performance estimates, the Max can reach 100 km/h in 2.78 seconds. That number isn’t exactly comparable with 0–60 mph times because 100 km/h is equivalent to 62 mph, but it’s close enough to get the idea. A Porsche Taycan Turbo can reach 60 mph in 3.0 seconds, while a standard Tesla Model S can do so in 3.1 seconds. It is important to remember that the Taycan Turbo S (2.6 seconds) is likely near a dead heat, while the Model S Plaid (2.3 seconds) is faster. Either way, the Max is said to have a maximum speed of 165 mph straight up, while the base model can only reach 130 mph.
The 800-volt, 101 kWh battery for the dual-motor SU7 Max was created in collaboration with the massive Chinese battery manufacturer CATL. The company says it can add 242 miles in 10 minutes or 316 miles in 15 minutes when using a compatible 800-volt charger. A 73.6 kWh BYD Blade battery, which can only accept 400-volt charging, powers the rear-wheel drive SU7. According to the China Light-Duty Vehicle Test Cycle (CLTC), the top-tier Max will have a range of up to 497 miles, while the rear-wheel-drive model will still have a respectable range of 415 miles. It’s important to remember that the test cycle is designed for Chinese driving conditions and typically yields better results than testing procedures used in Europe or America.
The news isn’t entirely unexpected, as Xiaomi first made its intention to enter the auto industry known in public back in 2021. Xiaomi appears to have committed more seriously than other tech companies, such as Apple and Sony, who have wavered about whether or not they are truly building cars. Mass production is scheduled to start in 2024. In collaboration with Beijing’s BAIC Motor Corporation, Xiaomi will manufacture the SU7 at its current Beijing facility. The cost has not yet been disclosed.
To begin this project, the smartphone maker has enlisted the help of some very talented people. The primary designer of the SU7 was Li Tianyuan, who was employed by BMW. That name is probably familiar to you from his earlier work on the BMW iX. James Qiu was also involved; he worked on the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX design. Depending on who you ask, Chris Bangle even worked as a design consultant. He is credited with either revolutionizing or ruining the BMW lineup.
With a strong industrial partnership with an established automaker and a team of top designers, Xiaomi looks like it will be able to build actual cars in the future. It’s another matter entirely whether the production models can match or even surpass vehicles from well-known automakers in terms of fit and finish. Although Xiaomi will need to go through a learning curve, it appears that it is off to a good start.
It’s interesting to note that it seems the business may have been influenced by Tesla’s casting practices as well. A Facebook post extols the company’s “Hypercasting” technique, which is essential for lowering the weight and quantity of welded joints needed in a car. All in all, the concept looks a lot like Tesla’s Gigacasting idea, which casts a sizable body section or subframe as if it were a single piece.
The SU7 places a lot of emphasis on technology, as one might anticipate from a manufacturer of smartphones. The car has a 16.1-inch infotainment screen with crisp 3K resolution and will run Xiaomi’s Hyper OS. Additionally, the vehicle will come equipped with optional tablets for the rear passengers that fasten to magnetic mounts on the front headrests. It looks that later on, autonomous driving assistance with LIDAR sensors to improve object detection in the vehicle’s field of vision will be available. The Chinese company is well aware of the challenges Beijing’s snowy and rainy climate presents, which is why the system’s sensors are specifically made to function in challenging environments.
Interestingly, though, not every feature on the SU7 is touchscreen-based; for example, the climate control has physical controls. It is also possible to have an additional button pad that mounts underneath the primary infotainment display.
In general, it’s an intriguing action taken by the smartphone manufacturer. With an appealing design and strong (professed) performance, Xiaomi is launching an attractive performance electric vehicle (EV) right out of the gate. Although it isn’t a world beater, the specifications indicate that it can compete with Tesla and Porsche’s extremely capable EVs. That might gain it some supporters in China and possibly lead to new export markets down the road. However, a high-end, luxury sports electric vehicle will never be a huge volume seller.
When the SU7 actually hits Chinese streets, it will be interesting to see if Xiaomi can win people over. We’re hoping to see some actual head-to-head comparisons between China’s top players and the current representatives from the US and Germany. Just bide our time until the first production models appear sometime in the upcoming year.